Sometimes thereis genuine ill will involved in trash-talking, says Steelers receiver HinesWard, "but the majority of time guys are just trying to take guys out oftheir element. It goes on every minute of the game. I've been called Chinesethis, my momma ain't this.... I do it too, but I do it with a smile. Thatpisses guys off." ... Ward's teammate, linebacker Larry Foote, saysexchanges can escalate: "It gets to the point that guys say, 'I'll come tothe bus after the game' or that they better not see me in the off-season. Youget all the mommas and daddys. The funniest thing is when Joey Porter (below,mouth-open) started talking about a guy's grandma. It's no holds barred. Itgets pretty heated." ... And, says Bengals receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh(top, left), "A lot of it is real vulgar. There was one guy, I was talkingso much [stuff] to him, cussing him out, and he was like, 'Man, I'm just tryingto play football. I don't want to get into all that.' I'd say, 'Quit actinglike a b----,' and he'd be like, 'I'm just trying to play football.' Itactually made me feel kind of bad." ... Raiders defensive end Warren Sapp(above, head shot) is "probably the best" according to Redskins guardDerrick Dockery. "He'll [say], 'I'm coming! I got you. I'm coming down yourthroat!'" Broncos tight end Stephen Alexander agrees that Sapp is peerlessamong trash talkers but laments, "The problem is, what he says, I can'trepeat in Sports Illustrated. It's nasty." ... There are also subtler,weirder ways to mess with a rival's mind. "While I was with Tampa Bay,"says Denver safety John Lynch, "one of our cornerbacks was coveringMinnesota receiver Cris Carter. After one play Cris asked the guy how long hewas in the league. He said, 'Three years.' Cris told him the NFL has a greatdental plan and he should take advantage of it. The player just dropped to hisknees [laughing]." ... Says Bears QB Rex Grossman (right), "Early inthe game you hear a lot from defensive linemen. When they hit you, it's like,'All day, all day, we're coming after you.'" ... Carolina guard Mike Wahlerecalls his rookie season with the Packers: "[Then Vikings linebacker] JohnRandle would go through your media guide and get your nickname. And on, like,third-and-12, he'd just start chanting, 'Beagle ... Beagle' [in a high-pitched,singsong voice]. You're just going, 'Ah, s---." ... "I talk trash--ithelps you play better," says Giants cornerback R.W. McQuarters. "Thisis our job, and you want to have fun. Last year when I was with the Lions, wewere playing the Saints. A pass to Donté Stallworth was overthrown, I had goodcoverage, but he went to the ref and was, like, 'Interference.' I walked overand started [rubbing my eyes with my hands]. Like 'Stop crying.' He got pissed.The talk might not always be trash talk. I might throw out something randomlike, 'What'd you buy at the mall this week?' He'll be looking at me like'What? What you talking about? Who said I even went to the mall?'" ...Redskins linebacker Marcus Washington is another who takes a preemptiveapproach: "I'm usually the one initiating. I've told several guys I'll bitetheir noses off." ... That wouldn't get a response from Ravens running backJustin Green. "I don't curse back at people," he says. "I'm aChristian, so when these guys say things to me, I say, 'Hey, God don't likeugly.' That usually works. It shocks them back to their faith. The best trashtalker on our team is Ray Lewis. He says funny stuff." ... "Kickersalways get trash-talked the most because we're the smallest guys and theslowest," says Ravens punter Leo Araguz (right). "The funniest thingwas in Buffalo when this guy yelled to me, 'Where are the chicken wings you gotthose legs for?' Or they use that I'm Mexican. One time a guy asked, 'Did youhave to get a green card to come and kick today?' I just laugh it off."
"Mike Rucker (left) was talking trash and RandyMoss (right) said, 'Who are you?' Moss turned him around and said, 'Rucker? Idon't know no Rucker. You better be quiet.' Mike just shut up. That would killanybody."
--Panthers safety Mike Minter