Thursday, September 21, 2006
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Say one thing about Chad Johnson, when he goes after an opponent, he goes after the biggest, baddest player.
The Bengals' mouthy wide receiver this week decided to take on Steelers linebacker Joey Porter, who recently graced the cover of Sports Illustrated as the game's most-feared player.
"Who am I going to pick on today?" Johnson wondered in a quiet tone at his locker in Cincinnati yesterday. "I'll pick on Joey!"
"Tell Joey," Johnson smacked, "we'll meet at the 50-yard line. We'll get it on."
Many of the Steelers admire Johnson and laugh off his antics, often staged and premeditated. In fact, Johnson and Porter consider themselves friends.
"That's Chad," Porter said. "He says that in a laughing matter. He's not serious. That's the type of guy he is, whatever gets him going. He's going to have an opportunity, I'll be right there on the 50-yard line waiting for him.
"I look at it as funny because I know that's what he's trying to do, he's trying to make a joke of it."
An act, Johnson said, mockingly.
"What act? You've never seen friends fight before? I'm going to be jawing out there Sunday."
Johnson pronounced Porter "pretty good" as a trash-talker in his own right, but as for the "most-feared" magazine declaration, "I'll take him any day."
"I've always been a target because of this, talking trash," Johnson said. "The hard part is hitting the target."
Cowher has some regrets
Although he denied he has seen it, Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis made sure earlier in the day that his players saw clips of coach Bill Cowher mocking the Bengals' "Who Dey?" chant. Cowher mocked it in the Steelers' locker room after they beat the Bengals in the playoffs, and repeated it at the Super Bowl victory parade in Pittsburgh.
"I didn't like it," Chad Johnson said after the clip was shown to the team this week. "I thought it was very rude."
Lewis, on a conference call with the Pittsburgh media, was asked what he thought of Cowher ridiculing the chant.
"Bill did that?" Lewis responded. "I wouldn't think he would do that. I have not seen that."
Cowher has not addressed the issue this week but, in March at the NFL meetings, he said he lamented what he did and admitted it might haunt him before the Steelers' first game against the Bengals.
"I kind of regret what happened," Cowher said. "At the parade, I kind of got caught up in that. The locker room thing is kind of the locker room. I have a lot of respect for Mike Brown and for Marvin, and the fact is that they won our division. They're the team we have to beat in our division because they're the ones on top.
"I'm sure the first time we play next year, I will have to relive everything I did and I will regret that and I will apologize at the time. It wasn't done with disrespect, it probably was done out of respect. What do they say? Imitation is the biggest form of flattery. That's the boat I'm in."
Porter said if that's what gets the Bengals up for the game, so be it. He compared it to the Steelers' reaction when Cincinnati receiver T.J. Houshmanzadeh wiped his shoes with a Terrible Towel after the Bengals won in Heinz Field in December.
"Whatever it takes to get you to that next level and lets you know how mean the rivalry is," Porter said. "They're going to use that as inspiration, and we think they should. It's going to be a dogfight when they come into Heinz stadium."