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Steelers

Casey Hampton sick of officiating controversy; Porter mum

| Friday, Feb. 10, 2006

KAPOLEI, Hawaii (AP) - Joey Porter passed on the chance to pile on Jerramy Stevens or weigh-in on the Super Bowl officiating after taking part in his first Pro Bowl practice.

Casey Hampton filled in nicely for his usually outspoken teammate.

Leading up to the Super Bowl, Porter called Stevens soft in response to Stevens saying he didn't think Steelers running back Jerome Bettis would be leaving Detroit with the championship trophy.

Pittsburgh won the Super Bowl 21-10 and Stevens dropped several passes, though he did score Seattle's only touchdown.

"It's hard to harp on a situation that's over with," Porter said Thursday. "It's tough enough for him to lose. I'm not going to dog him in the paper."

Porter also said he had no reaction to ongoing criticism of the officiating.

"It really doesn't matter to me," Porter said. "The game is over."

Hampton, a 28-year-old defensive tackle playing in his second Pro Bowl, had a much different take, expressing disgust with anyone who's complaining about the officiating.

Several calls were questioned during and after the game, mostly by the Seahawks and their fans.

"I don't care anything about that," Hampton said. "People crying about what happened, that's crazy. It doesn't matter. You can't talk about what might have happened. Two or three years from now, people won't remember who we beat in the Super Bowl, just that we won.

"We went in feeling like we were going to win. We got that ring. Believe me, nobody on our team is worried about that. What is crying going to do• Whoever is supposed to win is going to win. That's how it feels."

Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren expressed dismay over the officiating since the Super Bowl since last Sunday, but neither he nor his players have publicly denigrated Pittsburgh's victory.

Porter, Hampton, center Jeff Hartings, guard Alan Faneca and safety Troy Polamalu are Pittsburgh's Pro Bowl representatives.

Several high-profile Steelers, including Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward, Jerome Bettis, Ben Roethlisberger, Willie Parker and Antwaan Randle El, weren't selected.

"There were no real stars on our team," Polamalu said. "I think that's been the key to our success."

Said Faneca: "We're a team-team. It's not one person, it's not one group. It takes all of us to get the job done."

And that's what the Steelers did, capitalizing on big plays to win the franchises fifth Super Bowl title and first in 26 years.

Hartings said he wondered whether he was destined not to be part of a championship team, especially considering the Steelers had a 15-1 record in 2004 but didn't reach the Super Bowl.

They were 11-5 this year and the sixth and last seed in the AFC playoffs. But they beat Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Denver on the road on their way to the Super Bowl.

"To play nine years falling short, you almost stop thinking about it," Hartings said. "I was really able to enjoy the (Super Bowl) week, have a lot of fun. If we can go into next year with the same focus and attention to detail we had the last eight weeks, that will give us a chance again."

Hartings said he felt bad about the officiating controversy for the officials themselves.

"It's just like a player whenever a player makes a mistake, the fans and media want to single someone out for being a goat," he said. "I think that's a shame.

"My comment on the whole thing is these guys are men, they have families, they have wives, they have kids. They've been negatively affected by this. The game is being affected by this."

Polamalu, a three-year pro, graduated from Southern California a year before the Trojans won the first of two straight national championships.

And then, the Steelers had their great season in 2004 only to fall short.

"I'd never experienced anything like what we've done this past year," he said. "The thing about the playoff system is you don't have to be the best team during the regular season, you have to be the best team in the playoffs.

"We were the best team in the regular season last year and the best team in the playoffs this year."

Porter, a seven-year veteran playing in his third Pro Bowl, is buying 28 tickets for Sunday's game at Aloha Stadium, giving him a total of 30 since each player gets two comps.

The tickets cost $90, meaning he'll shell out $2,520.

"That fee is small compared to how much fun I'm going to have," Porter said. "My family's coming out. When I get a chance to do something like this, I want to enjoy it with my family."

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