|National Football League|
Tracy Porter eager to join Manning, Broncos
By PAT GRAHAM
DENVER (AP) The defensive back who once helped deny Peyton Manning his second Super Bowl title now wants to help the veteran quarterback hoist another trophy.
Tracy Porter picked off a Manning pass in the Super Bowl two years ago and raced 74 yards for a touchdown, sealing the win for the New Orleans Saints.
That solidified Porter's legacy as a playmaker.
But the ensuing bounty scandal might just ultimately tarnish his tenure with the Saints.
Porter is looking to turn the page on the controversy in New Orleans and start fresh in the Mile High City, even if he maintains the Saints were simply playing the game. The choice of the word "bounty" still perturbs Porter.
"The thing that I will say about it is the whole label of `bounty' is absurd," Porter said Friday in an introductory conference call after signing with Denver. "There's definitely no bounty on any player out there in the game. We were just playing football. For that term to come out bounty, I definitely think it was a bit harsh. But the league investigated and they felt they made the right decision.
"Who am I to come in and say they didn't make the right decision in issuing out the consequences for what they investigated?"
The league cracked down harshly on the Saints in the wake of their illegal program that rewarded players financially for trying to injure opponents. Head coach Sean Payton was suspended without pay for next season and general manager Mickey Loomis for eight games. Former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, now with St. Louis, also was banned indefinitely.
Any fear of more repercussions by the league down the road?
"I don't know if they brought it to any players or not, but I was not one of them," Porter said. "The only thing I can do is focus on free agency and moving on, you know, to get in the best situation for myself. I did that by coming to Denver."
On his visit to the Broncos facility earlier this week, Porter ran into none other than Manning, who was hard at work in the weight room as he continues to rehab from a series of neck surgeries.
Porter thought about casually mentioning the interception in the Super Bowl following the 2009 season, but figured it was still a sore subject. He didn't want to get off on the wrong foot with the new leader of the team.
That's a conversation for another time.
"I'm sure (the interception) will eventually come up," Porter said with a laugh. "First visit, I wanted to find out where each other's focus was, as far as helping this club win."
Porter liked what he heard and jumped on board. He will challenge Andre' Goodman for the cornerback spot opposite perennial Pro Bowler Champ Bailey, a player whom Porter - like so many others around the league - has tried to emulate on the field.
"That's definitely somebody that I want to learn (from) and further my game under. He will be a great mentor for me," Porter said. "I'm looking forward to it. The coaches say he's a great guy and I've heard nothing but great things about him."
Porter has spent his entire career with the Saints since being drafted in the second round in 2008. He's played in 43 games, knocked down 37 passes, forced four fumbles and picked off seven passes.
But his brightest moment came on the biggest of stages. That interception of Manning clinched the Saints' first world championship and made Porter's name known far and wide.
"It definitely put a bigger spotlight on me and my career," he said. "Everyone in the world is watching that game. You make a big play in the game and everyone is going to want to know who that guy is who made that play. It helped lift my career, put a spotlight on me so I could showcase my talent and catch the eye of everyone around the country watching football."
And with the Super Bowl in New Orleans next season, he certainly wouldn't mind a return trip, especially with Manning leading the way.
"I think this team definitely has the qualities to get back to the championship," Porter said. "That's something I want to be a part of and help make happen."
Updated March 23, 2012