Joey Porter Jr. looked devastated when his name wasn’t called on the first night of the 2023 NFL Draft.
But as soon as the first round ended, his father, legendary former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Joey Porter Sr., tried to make sure his son understood that he did nothing wrong.
“They wanna see a pissed off football player? Now they got one,” Porter Sr. told his son that night. “Now you’ve been motivated to another level because we got something to prove. Take it personal. As you should. But you ain’t did nothing … you did everything you were supposed to do.”
Beyond the acclaim of being a top-31 selection, Porter Sr. later revealed that his son wanted to attend the first round because his father was born in Kansas City, Missouri, where the draft took place. So when Porter Jr. knew he wouldn’t be a first-round selection, Porter Sr. said he quickly saw his son blaming himself.
“When it didn’t happen, I seen him putting the pressure on himself as if he did something wrong,” Porter said on “All Things Covered” with NFL cornerbacks Patrick Peterson and Bryant McFadden. “For me, personally, I was just more wanted to help him control the feelings he was going through because he was feeling as if, like, he let somebody down. And I was like, ‘Man, that ain’t the issue.'”
Porter Jr. didn’t have to wait long to be picked, though. And he couldn’t have landed at a better spot, as the Steelers, who drafted Porter Sr. in the third round of the 1999 draft, took Porter Jr. with the No. 32 pick — the first pick of the second round after the Miami Dolphins forfeited their first-round pick.
Porter Sr. played his first 13 NFL seasons with the Steelers, with whom he made three Pro Bowls and one first-team All-Pro. He ranks seventh all time in Steelers sacks, fourth in forced fumbles and 22nd in tackles.
Porter Jr. joins a loaded Steelers secondary with eight-time Pro Bowl and three-time All-Pro Peterson, who signed with the Steelers after two seasons with the Minnesota Vikings following an 11-year career with the Arizona Cardinals, and three-time Pro Bowl safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. Pittsburgh’s front seven is led by linebackers T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith and veteran defensive tackle Cameron Heyward.