DENVER -- By all accounts, Joey Porter was simply minding
his own business.
The Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker was standing outside a bar
when he was shot just before 2 a.m. Sunday following the
Colorado-Colorado State football game.
"He was an innocent bystander," police spokesman Sonny Jackson
said. "There was no confrontation or altercation that we know of
at this time."
One man was killed and five seriously injured after the shooting
outside the All Sports Bar & Grill in Denver. Porter, whose
injuries were not life-threatening, had gone to the bar following
the football game. The All-Pro linebacker played at Colorado State.
Pittsburgh coach Bill Cowher said Porter was shot in the
"Joey's going to be fine; he'll be back," Cowher said. "He's
a special guy and he'll be back."
Cowher did not speculate how long Porter would be out but did
say the team wouldn't place him on injured reserve, which would
sideline the linebacker for the season. Losing Porter for a
substantial period would be a major blow to a defense that was the
NFL's best in 2001 and ranked seventh overall last season.
Clark Haggans, who played mostly as a rush end in the Steelers'
dime defense last season, likely will start Sunday's opener against
Baltimore. Haggans also is a former Colorado State player.
Cowher said Porter was distraught over getting hurt with the
season about to start. The Steelers otherwise came through the
preseason with no serious injuries.
"He feels like he's let the football team down. He was really
emotional," Cowher said.
The bar where the shooting occurred is about 1½ miles from Coors
Field, and in an area high on the city's ranking of high-crime neighborhoods.
The six victims were standing inside the parking lot when the
shots were fired from outside a fence enclosing the property. Bar
manager James Greer said everyone had left the bar before the
"Joey had been to the game and he came down here to patronize
our business. This is very sad. I hope it doesn't interfere with
his playing," Greer said.
He said there had been no fights or arguments before the
shooting. One victim, Kendal Johnson, was a bar employee. He was
treated and released. The dead man was identified as Christopher
Porter, a third-round draft pick in 1998, played in his first
Pro Bowl last season. He became the first player since sacks became
an official statistic in 1982 to have nine sacks and four
Considered one of the league's best all-around linebackers,
Porter also had two fumble recoveries and two forced fumbles last
season. Against Oakland in the second game of 2002, Porter made 10
solo tackles, had three sacks and intercepted two passes, earning
him AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors.