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Big Ben's contract a good investment

March 6, 2008
The Altoona Mirror
PITTSBURGH —- Ben Roethlisberger was obviously the happiest guy in the room after he signed a $102 million contract.

Second happiest guy was his agent, who had probably calculated his commission to the last penny.

And the third happiest was Mike Tomlin, who settled the most important position on his team for the foreseeable future.

We’ve reached a point where a contract like this one doesn’t even raise that many eyebrows.

That’s the going rate for franchise quarterbacks these days, and Roethlisberger meets that description.

That doesn’t mean that he can’t improve, because he can. But he’s been around for four seasons now, and three of them have been pretty impressive.

The one in which he slumped followed a near-fatal motorcycle accident and an emergency appendectomy, so it wasn’t totally unexpected.

Although he’s pretty well entrenched with the Steelers, Roethlisberger is only 26. He’s still growing into the job, and his best years are probably ahead of him.

It’s an enviable situation for the Steelers. They have the key position on offense locked up.

Now the challenge is to build the supporting cast that will allow Roethlisberger to be successful.

The offensive line should be the top priority in this year’s draft. As Hines Ward draws closer to the end of his career, the Steelers need to add depth at receiver.

They took a step toward beefing up their running game by signing free agent Mewelde Moore.

But it all starts at quarterback.

When you get a capable player at that position, you hold onto him.

Having spanned the time from Terry Bradshaw to Roethlisberger with the likes of Cliff Stoudt, Mark Malone, Bubby Brister and Kordell Stewart, the Steelers should have a firmer grasp of that reality than most franchises.

Good deal

Thumbs up on the Steelers’ signing of Moore.

He’s a versatile back who should be a good complement to Willie Parker. The Steelers desperately need depth at that position, and Moore is the kind of player who should help.

He can catch passes out of the backfield and he has experience returning kicks.

The Steelers don’t have a lot of cap room to make moves, so they maximized their limited dollars with Moore.

Buddy Dial

This is probably just for the over-40 crowd, but Buddy Dial’s death at 71 on Feb. 29 seems to have gone under the radar.

Dial was a Steelers receiver from 1959-63, when they had some decent teams that weren’t quite good enough.

Post-football, Dial went through a hellish series of medical issues.

Even when the Steelers didn’t have the best teams, they had some good players. Buddy Dial was one of them.

Mehno can be reached at His weblog is at

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