So the players are pretty mum on the whole trash talking front this week, no fear Steeler Nation, the New York media is more than happy to start the fire by making up their own. Or at least trying to…
By BART HUBBUCH
So says Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor, who told The Post yesterday that he won’t hesitate to “lay out” his close friend in the AFC Championship against the Jets if the right situation presents itself.
Taylor and Holmes, the former Steelers receiver, are offseason workout partners and as tight as brothers, but Taylor said that friendship will be put on hold for three hours this weekend at Heinz Field.
Taylor’s chilling message: If that means hurting Holmes, then so be it.
“I love him and that’s my boy, but when we get between those white lines, it’s a whole different deal,” Taylor said in an interview with The Post after practice.
“I’m going to try to be as disrespectful as possible once we get between those white lines,” the veteran Pittsburgh starter said. “Friendship doesn’t enter into it then.”
What must put Holmes and the Jets on notice is that the Steelers’ hard-hitting defense is known to back up hints of bodily harm.
Taylor, who was fined $10,000 by the NFL during the preseason for striking Giants wideout Hakeem Nicks in the head, is one of several Pittsburgh defenders familiar with the league’s disciplinary department in recent years.
Linebacker James Harrison, in fact, is such a noted headhunter that the NFL has fined him four separate times this season alone for a total of $100,000, putting him on the verge of a suspension.
Taylor’s comments also probably won’t go over well with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in the wake of his recent efforts to cut down on unnecessarily violent hits.
But Taylor, who is among the team leaders in tackles and defies the usual cornerback reputation by being physical against the run, defiantly said he plans to offer his buddy no quarter.
Friendship only goes so far, it seems, when a chance to go to the Super Bowl is on the line.
“I’m not going to hesitate to lay him out,” Taylor said. “No question at all. You know why? Because he ain’t going to hesitate to crack on me if he gets a chance.”
Taylor, who became tight with Holmes during the wideout’s four seasons in Pittsburgh, will have to be careful carrying out that vow because hits on “defenseless receivers” are the league’s biggest point of emphasis this year.
The prospect of hearing from Goodell seemed to dawn on Taylor the longer he spoke. That might be what eventually prompted Taylor to say he might “come to a mutual agreement” with Holmes to hold up ever so slightly should either player get the chance at a kill shot.
“That’s a possibility,” Taylor said, smiling.
But on the whole, Taylor doesn’t sound like someone planning to let up on the player whose locker was practically next to his own for so many years.
Taylor also works out with Holmes in the offseason at Disney’s Wide World of Sports in Orlando, but the outspoken Steeler said he and Holmes don’t talk football during the season.
“I talked to ‘Tone’ [on Tuesday], but it was what we always talk about — ‘What you doing?’ Playing PlayStation, what you doing? ‘Playing PlayStation.’ No (on-field) matchups or anything like that. We just rap.”
It will stay that way until Sunday, when Holmes will morph into the green-and-white enemy for Taylor.
“It all changes between those white lines,” Taylor said.
Photo courtesy of espn.com