"he's far from the brilliance of an all-time great, even with him only being a second year."
Right now, I would say he has the skill and potential to be an all-time great. Whether he becomes an all time great remains to be seen, just like with Crosby.
"It's not fair to compare the two sports, but let's be real. Sid's one of those once in a lifetime players"
Sid is a once in a lifetime player and I think there are plenty of QBs that are better than Ben, but I think Ben is an amazing QB in only his second year. Compare the two. Both have unbelievable athletic abilities. Both have tremendous poise and leadership qualities. Both can take over a game and put the team on there backs. Both can make brilliant plays out of nothing at all. However, when you look at Crosby, he can do something without depending on someone else. Look at the 3rd and 23 play where Ben hit Ward at the 3 yard line. No matter how great a play Ben makes, he still has to depend on Ward to make an equally great play to be productive. Crosby can take the puck from an opposing player and do things on his own to score.
I think when it is all said and done, both will be Hall of Fame players. Whether Crosby is up there with Lemieux or Gretzky and Ben is up there with Unitas and Brett Favre remains to be seen. I think it will be fun ride to watch both.
One thing to add. I hope that the Pens can stay in Pittsburgh. I think the city having the ability to watch Ben/Polamalu and Crosby/Malkin for the next 10-20 years has to create city excitement.