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A man with a message

Steelers let Farrior do talking for them

By Shalise Manza Young and Monique Walker
Globe Staff / February 3, 2011

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In front of microphones and cameras, Steelers linebacker James Farrior is fairly reserved.

When he began his career in 1997, as a first-round draft pick of the Jets, he was happy to defer to more experienced players like Brian Cox and Mo Lewis as the emotional leaders for New York.

And when he arrived in Pittsburgh in 2002, he was just fine with letting Joey Porter be the guy who fired up the defense and the Steelers as a whole.

But now, as a 36-year-old finishing his 14th season, Farrior is the man who stands in the locker room before every game and addresses his teammates.

He will do so again Sunday, before the Steelers face Green Bay in search of their second Super Bowl title in three years.

“I guess when Joey left [for Miami in 2007], we needed somebody to get the group up because he was gone,’’ said Farrior. “He’d always done it when he was here, so after he left, I got anointed to be the one.’’

No one else wanted the job, Farrior claimed.

Now, the Steelers wouldn’t have anyone else handle the duties.

“There’s nothing like it,’’ said receiver Hines Ward. “James has always been our vocal and emotional leader out on the field. He gets guys fired up.’’

“Even at practice, you may be feeling kind of sluggish, but James is the guy who picks you up and gets you going. Every time we break the locker room, he always gives us an emotional speech, and we love him.’’

“He’s been in this league so long,’’ said defensive lineman Chris Hoke. “He’s going to say what needs to be said. He’s going to go out there and hit hard. That’s a guy you want to follow.’’

Pouncey sits it out During his morning press conference, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin could not provide an update on center Maurkice Pouncey, who has an ankle sprain, but when the team took the field at Texas Christian’s indoor facility, Pouncey was not a participant. The rookie was off crutches and walked into yesterday’s media session without a boot. He declared Tuesday that there’s a 75 percent chance he will play Sunday. But if he’s unable to practice by Friday, then he won’t play. That isn’t against the norm for Pittsburgh. For the last several weeks of the season, safety Troy Polamalu sat out Wednesday and Thursday practices because of an Achilles’ injury, practiced on Friday and played on Sunday. The only other player listed on Pittsburgh’s injury report was defensive end Aaron Smith (torn triceps), who was limited. Smith has been sidelined since October but Tomlin did not place him on injured reserve, hoping the 12-year veteran could return. Tomlin told pool reporter Peter King after practice that his optimism about Smith being able to play is fading . . . On the Packers’ first injury report of the week, tackle Chad Clifton (knees), center Jason Spitz (calf), and linebacker Erik Walden (ankle) were all limited at practice. Linebacker Frank Zombo (knee) fully participated.

Snyder sues newspaper Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has sued Washington City Paper over a column he says defamed him and had anti-Semitic references.

Snyder filed the lawsuit against the weekly paper and its parent company, Atalaya Capital management LP, in New York State Supreme Court. The suit seeks at least $1 million in damages for each of the two causes of action, plus punitive damages.

The cover story entitled “The Crazy Redskins Fan’s Guide to Dan Snyder,’’ has an altered photo of the owner with horns and a beard drawn in pen. The suit claims the weekly newspaper used “lies, half-truths, innuendo and anti-Semitic imagery to smear, malign, defame and slander’’ Snyder.

The suit also says the newspaper reported Snyder engaged in criminal conduct by “forging names.’’

In a letter to readers posted last night, publisher Amy Austin said, “We believe we have the facts right.’’

In a post on the City Paper’s website yesterday, managing editor Mike Madden asserted the image “is meant to resemble the type of scribbling that teenagers everywhere have been using to deface photos for years,’’ he wrote. “The image of Snyder doesn’t look like an ‘anti-Semitic caricature’ — it looks like a devil.’’

Snyder will contribute any monetary damages received to groups that assist the homeless, the lawsuit said.

Stay inside Because of weather conditions in the Dallas area, the Packers practiced indoors at Highland Park High School, one of many large high schools in the area that have indoor facilities. “A high school in Texas is a little different than most high schools,’’ said Packers coach Mike McCarthy.

The Packers were originally supposed to practice at Southern Methodist’s stadium, but the field was covered with snow. The Packers kickers and punters worked out at Cowboys Stadium yesterday.

Ring bearer Packers fullback John Kuhn knows what it feels like to win a Super Bowl; he did it with the Steelers in 2006. It is a feeling no one else on the Packers can appreciate. “It’s something that’s pretty sacred,’’ Kuhn said. “Everyone comes up to me and asks me about it. I told everyone I wanted to earn one on the field, and that’s what we’re here to do and that’s what Sunday is all about.’’ Shalise Manza Young reported from Fort Worth, Monique Walker from Las Colinas, Texas. Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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