PITTSBURGH - As though they didn't already have enough to do, the Pittsburgh Steelers will soon cast their ballots.
The team has an annual election for a Most Valuable Player, and they have an interesting decision in this season of the 7-7 record and recent disappointment.
Some years there are many deserving candidates. This season, the slate isn't as full.
On offense, the players could go for an offensive lineman like Maurkice Pouncey or Max Starks. Players are in a much better position to gauge the level of a lineman's contribution.
The two obvious candidates on offense are Ben Roethlisberger and Heath Miller. Although Roethlisberger has had injury issues lately and threw last week's game-changing interception at Dallas, the Steelers would be sunk without him.
Miller is a player whose performance and effort are amazingly consistent. If he can get his hands on the ball, he'll probably catch it. When he does, it usually takes more than one man to bring him down.
There are no MVP candidates at the running back or wide receiver positions this year.
On defense, the most deserving players are in the secondary - Ryan Clark and Ike Taylor. Taylor gets a deserved bad rap for his inability to get interceptions, but he's been valuable in covering opponent's best receivers.
Clark has had a solid season which is especially impressive in a year where his partner, Troy Polamalu, has missed most of the games.
The Steeler who has had the best year is kicker Shaun Suisham, who has missed only field goal this season.
But players rarely consider kickers for MVP awards, so it's likely Suisham won't be a strong candidate.
The two best options are Clark and Miller. You can flip a coin to choose, because they've been equally valuable in a season when so many things have gone wrong.
What a terrible message the Dallas Cowboys sent when they allowed Josh Brent on the sideline for Sunday's game against the Steelers.
Brent is the player who is facing intoxication manslaughter charges for a highway accident that killed teammate Jerry Brown.
TV cameras caught Brent, wearing team gear, laughing and smiling during the game.
Reports say a teammate who was injured reserve brought Brent to the sideline without getting clearance from the organization. The NFL consulted with the Cowboys, and Brent won't be allowed on the sideline for any more games.
The damage is done, though. Brent never should have been visible as part of the Cowboys, and the organization should have made that abundantly clear in advance.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org