Sealed With A Kiss - By Marc Simon

Steelers Fever Exclusive Editorial

Linebacker Joey Porter took his game to a new level in the Steelers' stunning opening night victory against the Miami Dolphins. It wasn't his sacks. It wasn't "The Boot," his patented after-sack celebration move. It wasn't his 43-yard interception return that deep-sixed the 'Fins, or even his parody of the Duante Culpepper roly-poly arm roll.

It was The Kiss.

Imagine Coach Bill Cowher's surprise when Pal Joey planted a wet one on his neck following his game-clinching interception. If Coach Cowher looked a bit like a reluctant schoolgirl as he was being confronted by Joey's advances, it's understandable. How would you feel if a sweaty 250-pound man with arms like tree trunks was attempting to plant a sloppy one on you?

Then again, Joey has never been one to restrain his emotions. It's just that he doesn't always express them as terms of endearment.

For example, in 2004 Joey was ejected before a game with the Cleveland Browns for getting into a fistfight with former Browns running back William Green. After the Steelers/Colts playoff game last year, commenting on the Troy Polamalu interception overrule, he basically stated that the referees had a pro-Colt agenda - which is putting it mildly. Quoth Joey: "The referees were cheating for the Colts. The whole world wanted Indy to win so bad, they [the referees] were going to do whatever they were going to do."

Maybe he was right. The league didn't fine him for his remarks. However, the league does fine him every time he wears yellow gloves in a game. Apparently, it's against NFL rules to wear yellow gloves, even if it's your team's color.

And then there was the Mr. Porter goes to Washington incident. Joey felt he had a thing or two to say to President Bush. Who doesn't these days? Joey felt he needed to tell Mr. Bush that "he didn't like the way things are running right now." If you look at the photos of the event, you'll see that they arranged for Joey to be in the back row of the bleachers, as far away from the president as possible.

Outbursts like these sometimes obscure what a brilliant player Joey is. He's been to three Pro Bowls. He led the league last year in sacks by an outside linebacker. He was recently named the most feared player in the NFL. After getting sacked twice and intercepted by Joey in last Thursdays' game, Dolphins quarterback Daunte Culpepper would second that.

And now, The Kiss. It's destined to take its place alongside the Immaculate Reception and the Immaculate Tackle. It's possible that in the near future, Joey will be fielding offers from a bevy of cosmetic companies to promote men's lip-gloss. Can you imagine seeing Joey in his uniform, holding up a tube of the stuff, saying, "Hi. I'm Joey Porter. Be like me. Make Jock Gloss part of your pre-game ritual." Then he blows a kiss to the camera.

It could happen. Never underestimate Joey Porter.