With 3:23 left to play in Sunday's Dolphins loss to the Patriots, Dolphins coach Tony Sparano got an ugly glimpse of how hard to control Joey Porter is when the linebacker collected an unnecessary roughness penalty -- no doubt, on purpose.
One play later Porter was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct -- just a guess here, but whatever he did was probably premeditated. And so Sparano had seen enough. He sent Charlie Anderson into the game to replace Porter.
Porter refused to leave the field in direct insubordination of his coach's wishes. Porter ordered Anderson to go back to the bench. After the game, Porter refused to speak with the media. (So much for being a stand-up guy.)
So this is what the Dolphins have:
A linebacker who has a big mouth. A linebacker who has gaudy sack stats and is the team's only player applying consistent pressure. The defense's only big-play-maker. The defense's most unhinged player.
Porter has spent most of the season being way out there with things that have nothing to do with sacking quarterbacks. He has made news for calling out Matt Cassel before the season's first meeting between the Dolphins and Pats. He ripped a referee. He ripped Matt Jones and the league's handling of his situation. He said he would like to have Michael Vick on the Dolphins and said people critical of Vick for killing dogs were somewhat hypocritical because the dogs slain were pitbulls and those folks don't like pitbulls, anyway.
On ESPN Sunday, Porter said Bill Belichick is a cheater who has stolen two championships from Porter because the Pats beat the Steelers two times in the playoffs in the years the Patriots were allegedly cheating.
None of that really bothers me. It's just noise.
But Sunday's refusal to do what Sparano ordered is a problem. Joey Porter crossed the line. And it's not the first time it happens with a rookie head coach as Porter crossed the line several times with Cam Cameron last year.
So what should Sparano do with and to Porter?
Fine him? Suspend him? Ignore him? It will be interesting as most things involving Joey Porter are. It will be interesting because it is Sparano's first test of his will over the will of a star player.