Mehno: Pick your 6: Steelers or Pats better?

PITTSBURGH — The score is tied 6-6, and we’re supposed to declare a winner?

The New England Patriots won their sixth Super Bowl, matching the Steelers’ total and spurring plenty of debate.

Who’s better? The Steelers won their first four in six years. Six great years of drafting (1969-74) led to six great years on the field (1974-79).

The Patriots’ six championships have come over 17 seasons.

The Steelers played in an era with no salary cap and no free agency. They won with basically the same group of players in the ’70s.

The Patriots are playing under different rules. The cast, aside from Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, has been changing constantly.

The NFL has conveniently placed everything in the Super Bowl era, which started in 1967. But there were NFL championships before that, and the Green Bay Packers won 11 of those titles before they won four Super Bowls.

The best of all time? That’s easy. The numbers say it’s the Packers.

Some other Super Bowl thoughts:

n Not everyone with the Los Angeles Rams had a bad day. Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips came up with a game plan that put pressure on Brady and limited New England to 13 points. It only failed on one drive, and that was enough for the Patriots.

n In a year when everyone has been looking for the next hot young coach, the Super Bowl-winning coach is 66. It’s still easier to find the next hot young coach than it is to find the next Belichick.

n Has there ever been a team where the whole has been better than the sum of its parts more than the Patriots? There won’t be a lot of Hall of Fame inductions for the Patriots. Just championships.

n Aside from the one marking the NFL’s impending 100th anniversary, the big-budget commercials were mostly uninspired. The ad people are outsmarting themselves and creating for their peers rather than their customers.

n Rams quarterback Jared Goff had an outstanding season. All that got him was a spot on a stage that was way too big. He didn’t get much help, either. The Rams needed others to make key plays, and they didn’t.

n Past Patriots players have said that playing for Belichick isn’t a lot of fun. Maybe not. But they sure looked like they were enjoying themselves after Sunday’s game, didn’t it?

Bob Friend passes

Bob Friend, a stalwart on the Pirates’ starting staff in the 1950s and ’60s, died over the weekend at 88.

Friend was a workhorse who never went on the disabled list in his 16-year major league career. He averaged 260 innings per season for 10 years once the Pirates made him a full-time starter.

Friend broke into the majors at age 20, then spent seven offseasons taking classes at Purdue to finish his degree in economics. After baseball. Friend was voted to two terms as Allegheny County controller.

He worked for a brokerage firm, and managed to find time to help found the Pirates’ Alumni Association. He made hundreds of appearances and signed thousands of autographs as a goodwill ambassador for decades after he was done with baseball.

(Extra points to you if you remember Bob Prince tagged Friend with the nickname “Bart” because his middle name was Bartmess).

The sadness over his passing is mitigated by respect and admiration for a life well lived.

John Mehno can be reached at johnmehnocolumn@gmail.com


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