PITTSBURGH - Sunday's matchup of Ben Roethlisberger vs. Eli Manning created a lively weeks' worth of debate about two quarterbacks from the same draft class who also have two Super Bowl championships.
Who's better? What does it matter? Neither team has had reason to have any buyers' remorse about their choice.
Roethlisberger has been great for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Manning has been just as good for the New York Giants. Both quarterbacks are on track for the Hall of Fame.
Roethlisberger got the upper hand Sunday in a 24-20 win over the Giants.
If Bill Cowher ever gets back into NFL coaching, one of his stipulations is that any team he takes over must have a franchise-caliber quarterback. Cowher spent enough time with Kordell Stewart and Neil O'Donnell to appreciate what a Roethlisberger-type talent means to a team.
The Ben-Eli debate is tailored for talk radio because there's no answer. How would Roethlisberger have done with Tom Coughlin screaming at him all the time? How effective would Manning have been running for his life behind some of the leaky offensive lines the Steelers have had?
If your team has a Manning or Roethlisberger, give thanks. Leave the regrets to the teams that start Brady Quinn.
Jam the schedule
The NHL sent a mixed message on Friday, canceling the Winter Classic while acknowledging that negotiations are back on to end the lockout.
The Winter Classic is rarely good hockey, but it's great promotion for the NHL. It's a spectacle that non-hockey fans will watch on a New Year's afternoon when sports TV options are limited.
This season's Toronto-Detroit Classic was going to be the biggest, with 114,000 seats for sale at Michigan's football stadium. That's as many tickets as some NHL Sunbelt franchises sell for two months of home games.
Saved by the Bell?
Jay Bell is an odd choice as the Pirates' new hitting coach.
Bell has coached in the major leagues, but he's been a bench coach rather than a hitting instructor. As a player, Bell was prone to a lot of strikeouts. That's a problem he'll be trying to correct with Pirates hitters.
No doubt Bell is a popular name, and a link to the Pirates' better days. Those aren't priorities, though. The Pirates need someone who can help the hitters get better.
Mehno can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org