Mehno: Football delivers great weekend


PITTSBURGH — What a weekend of football.

It was perfectly timed because the weather was miserable. It took courage (and a parka) to open the door just long enough to scoop up the Mirror and bring it inside.

The NFL got off to a slow start with Tennessee at Kansas City, but that picked up when an Andy Reid-coached team figured out yet another way to lose a playoff game.

Sunday’s NFL doubleheader was even better, then things wrapped up Monday with a spectacular finish to the college season.

Sure, it was disappointing for those who wanted to see Nick Saban lose, but what a game. Among the highlights: A bold in-game quarterback change, a player fighting his own team, and a touchdown as the last play of the season.

This is what we hope for when we park on the couch with a warm blanket on a miserable winter day or night.

Hat’s off to the people who invented HD television, the remote control and pizza delivery.

What rift?

There’s a story out there suggesting there’s conflict among the three most important people connected to the New England Patriots — owner Robert Kraft, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady.

It’s bee denied, and there’s no doubt Belichick sees it as a conspiracy designed to derail his team as the playoffs start for his team.

The New York media seems to think Belichick lusts for the New York Giants coaching job. Who knows if that’s true? Belichick isn’t one to share his innermost feelings.

He probably gave the latest story about three seconds of his attention, then got back to watching game tapes to prepare for Saturday’s game against Tennessee.

Belichick is a machine. Machines don’t have emotions, they perform tasks. His job is to coach his football team, and nobody is better at doing that. The Patriots will be ready.

If the Patriots don’t repeat as Super Bowl champions, it won’t be because of these stories.

Still shopping

Retail stores are offering closeouts on unsold merchandise, while baseball’s free agent market is still flourishing with quality material.

It’s been slow to develop this winter, which leaves desirable players still available. Until the market settles down, teams are unsure if they need to pursue trades to fill gaps.

Among the notable unsigned players are Yu Darvish, Jake Arietta, J.D. Martinez, Carlos Gonzalez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Jayson Werth and Jay Bruce. (OK, wise guy, Joaquin Benoit is still out there, too).

Former Pirates infielder Neal Walker is still unsigned, and he’s an interesting case. Walker is 32. In each of the past two seasons, he’s sat out one-third of the games with injuries.

He can still hit, so he’s a candidate for a one-year deal or maybe one year and a team option. It’s difficult to see any club offering him a guaranteed multi-year contract because of his recent injury history. Maybe at this point, Walker is more a busy utility player than an everyday starter.

He still doesn’t seem to be a fit for the Pirates.

Mehno can be reached at