PITTSBURGH -- The player who dressed next to Joey Porter in the Steelers’ locker room and is still good friends with him doesn’t just predict success for Porter in coaching.
Larry Foote sees Porter going all the way to the top if he chooses to make a career out of coaching.
“I think he’s going to be a head coach in this league one day,” Foote told ESPN.com earlier this week. “I think he has that ‘it’ factor to be a head coach if he stays the course. He has an enthusiasm and excitement that you can’t teach, you can’t develop, you’ve just got to be born with it and I’m excited. Hopefully he grows from the coaching side, X's and O's, organization and stuff like that. But shoot, he’s on the fast track because he can lead men, he can get men to run through a wall.”
Porter has returned to Pittsburgh to do that and learn his new trade as a Steelers defensive assistant. Porter, who joined coach Mike Tomlin’s staff in February, has already shown the same kind of enthusiasm for coaching as he did for playing.
“He brings it every day like he’s a player and guys respect that," said Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who has become one of Porter's proteges. "When the linebackers hit the field you can see the energy and positivity and that’s what we need and that’s how we’re going to continue to get better.”
That comes as no surprise to Foote, who was teammates with Porter from 2002-06.
Foote signed with Arizona in March, and he has already heard plenty about Porter there. He said Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald told him that Porter is the best leader he has ever seen.
Porter spent two seasons with the Cardinals before retiring in 2012.
Fitzgerald’s praise only reaffirmed to Foote that Porter’s contributions in Pittsburgh transcend his 60 sacks in seven seasons, which rank fifth on the organization’s all-time list.
“Through my time in Pittsburgh there was no better leader,” said Foote, who played for the Steelers from 2002-08 and 2010-13. “He wasn’t on that second Super Bowl team [in 2008] but his imprint was still on that team and it still lives in that locker room a little bit.
“He is selfless, putting his team first and that just sets the tone for the team and the way he played week in and week out. He was an established Pro Bowl guy and he was hungry every week. He loved the game.”
Porter has transferred that love to coaching, and his enthusiasm as well as his expertise at playing outside linebacker and rushing the passer should only help players like Jones and Jason Worilds.
“That’s the thing about Joey, he has one speed,” Foote said. “The game is changing. You need coaches coming in with that energy. A lot of players can feed off the coaches’ energy and what a perfect guy to do it.”