Dear remaining readers: Welcome back to the Pembroke Mafia Football League, an annual weekly exercise in something I can’t exactly explain.
It has to do with college football season and silliness and for some reason it has been going on in the pages of the Bryan County News for some years now. For the record, I blame it all on B.J. Clark, our CEO and head of the Pembroke Mafia Football League Convention and Visitors Bureau.
He’s the instigator, all 7-foot-3 of him. And for those who have no idea what this is about, B.J. is a retired Navy tractor salesman Auburn and Georgia Southern fan who wanders the remote wilds of North Bryan like an amiable Sasquatch Don’t be alarmed if you see him looking over your fence, he’s probably just lost. It’s a long story, or will be when I finish making it up.
And speaking of long stories, so is Ernie “Marlin Perkins” Mitchell.
Ernie is B.J.’s “little buddy,” because they’re both retired Navy chief admiral petty officers and big wheels in Pembroke American Legion Post 164, except Ernie is more like 4-foot-11 when he doesn’t have his elevator shoes on.
These days Ernie has his own beard and fishing hat, and to look taller he stands on a stepladder to pose for the picture that goes with his occasional fishing column, appropriately called The Occasional Fisherman.
But he’s more like Marlin Perkins, for two reasons.
The first is a Marlin is a fish, and Ernie writes a fishing column. The other is he really enjoys talking about bobbers and bobbers is a perky word.
In fact, feel free to bring it up next time you see him. Just go right up to him and say, “Hi Ernie, can you recommend some bobbers for me?”
He likes it when people ask him about bobbers. Just be prepared to sit there all day, while he goes on explaining things you never knew about bobbers. Orange and sort of sherbert yellow versus red and white, plastic versus cork, the long pointy ones versus traditional round bobbers, the kind that glow in the dark, plus getting the proper windage in bobber placement, etc.
And then he’ll get started on conditions, because not all bobbers are created equal. Never have been.
Some bobbers bob better in adverse conditions or in waters where the current moves the surface around, other bobbers prefer to bob in more calm circumstances. Some cast OK without sinkers, others require sinkers — but that’s another topic. Ask him about sinkers, too. Just pack a lunch.
Anyway, B.J. and Ernie, along with Mike Clark, Mark Rogerson and District 1 County Commissioner Noah Covington, who I suspect wears a skinned hamster on his face to board meetings, are the heart, soul and nucleus of the Pembroke Mafia Football League and have hung with it for lo these many years.
Noah is simply known as King of the North and he wants a Fitbit for Christmas. Mike is Vanilla Mike. Mark is something like 13-1/2 and has been that for a while. He’s in the PMFL’s gifted program.
Others with tenure are Pembroke City Administrator Alex Floyd – the most Fred McMurray-met-Mr. Rogers-like 30-something-year-old I have ever met in my life, Alex comes complete with slippers and a pipe — and Bryan County Schools Assistant Superintendent Dr. Trey Robertson.
That’s right. Trey.
Not counting Trey, how many grownups do you know named Trey? Do people really stay a Trey when they grow up? It’s like being a Rickey or Eddie, or Jeffie. You expect a hoodie. And what is Trey short for, anyway? Treyvis? Treyington? Henry? Trey. It sounds like he should be videoing his friends skateboarding off the garage roof onto a trampoline and knocking the gutters off the house with their heads, then putting it all on Youtube.
Sorry. I get off on tangents and forget what I’m doing.
Also back for another season is former Bryan County News Assistant Editor Ted O’Neil, who made the paper great during his time here but moved back to Michigan because, well, because he’s a yankee. Had he stayed, he would’ve been a (rhymes with dam) yankee.
Truth is, I miss Ted.
He wrote 1,000 stories an hour and never complained. Man was a rock.
This year, we have three new members.
Before I introduce them, I feel compelled to note that as an editor, albeit probably one of the most uneditor-like editors ever to take a stab at editing a paper, I find it important stress we in the PMFL are uniters, not dividers.
That means even though leaders in Richmond Hill and Bryan County are involved in a squabble over something called service delivery strategy and something else called millage rates and something else called tax equalization, the PMFL is having none of it.
We’re about inclusiveness. And to prove it, we’ve got Bryan County Administrator Ben Taylor and Richmond Hill City Clerk Dawnne Greene on board.
That’s right. You heard it here first. In fact, as Bryan County Commission Chairman Carter Infinger would say, “That’s right, that’s right. That’s what I’m talking about, right there." Warning: Sometimes I have the sneaking suspicion Infinger is up to something. I think he wants a country to invade.
As for Ben, who hails from the Fire Ant Capital of the World, otherwise known as Ashburn and also home to Keith-a-Cue, the world’s most interesting $2 barbecue, well you should see his socks.
They’re probably $50 apiece ($100 for a pair!) and should be called men’s hosiery out of respect. These are the kinds of socks you can go to a prom in. Of course, I haven’t seen them outside of Ben’s wingtips, but they might even have separate toe compartments for when Ben does aerobics to keep that county administrator brain razor sharp.
Dawnne, who thinks B.J. thinks she’s a dude because he spells her name Duanne, is typical of Richmond Hill’s ever-growing population in that she’s from up north somewhere. I like Dawnne, even though she’s a New England Patriots fan — hence the spelling of her name “Dawn” with the “ne” for New England tacked on the end.
She even named her dog Gronk, which might come in helpful when we decide to appoint Tom Brady to the PMFL’s Committee on Fair Play and Flat Footballs, and then send him around letting the air out of footballs belonging to teams we don’t like. We might also make Brady our plant-based diet consultant. But only if he brings Gisele. In a bikini. Hey Dawnne, go Jaguars.
Finally, I’m told Pembroke First Baptist Church Pastor Brad Butler is in the PMFL.
I have not talked to the good Rev. Butler about this, and have not heard from the good Rev. Butler about this. But B.J.’s the boss, so a disclaimer: This is strictly a B.J. deal, and if B.J. is pulling a fast one I will probably hear about it.
But that said, I have rarely been one to let facts stand in the way of a good story (an old journalism joke), and given that the PMFL has long been in need of as much spiritual guidance as possible it’s good to have the Rev. Butler aboard to keep us out of that place where bad people go and help me win this thing.
So welcome Pastor Butler. Welcome Ben, welcome Dawnne, welcome back to the rest of us wretches who are back for another slog through the PMFL season.
Oh, and a quick welcome to our permanent team moms, Jean Carpenter in South Bryan — Mayor Russ Carpenter’s mom — and Rose Mock in Pembroke. Rose is Alex Floyd’s grandmother. They’ll hopefully be making sure we PMFL members have our healthy post-game juice boxes and snacks.
I’m partial to Miller Lite, myself.
Finally, a first-column shout out to all our mob wives, Beverly, Marsha, Ginger, Kim, Kristen and whoever I left out.
And a warning to Dave Williams, first-alternate: when we lose a member, you’re first in the hole buddy.
Here’s how this works. Each week, B.J. will select a dozen or so games and send them to PMFL members, who in turn will try to pick the most winners. B.J. keeps score (that has led to some interesting results over the years), and then B.J. tells me what to write about who. And then sometimes we get it all wrong on purpose just so I’ll have something to correct.
So here we go.
Ole Miss vs. Texas Tech:
B.J. Mike, Ernie, Noah, Dawnne, Ben and Trey (Trey?) go with the Rebels. The smart ones pick the Red Raiders.
Texas vs. Maryland:
The whole world is picking the Longhorns, except for Alex, who is picking the Terrapins.
“Go figure that one out,” says B.J. Heh. Pembroke Mayor Judy Cook says Alex doesn’t know “a cotton picking thing” about football. I agree.
He’s too busy buying suspenders and warming up some milk.
Washington vs. Auburn:
Marlin Perkins Jr. is taking the Huskies.
The rest of us pickers are smarter than that. We’re rolling with the Mighty War Eagles. Especially B.J. He’s from LaGrange.
North Carolina vs.California:
Noah, Alex and Trey pick the Tar Holes. The rest of us pick Cal and hope the Bears are golden. To be honest, UNC should give up football and join the WNBA. Boise State vs. Troy:
Me and Ted take Troy in the upset. Everybody else picks the Smurfs.
Navy vs. Hawaii:
We all take Navy. B.J. is stoked as any good squid would be at this time of year. Hey, when I was in the Army I pulled for Navy too.
Miami vs. LSU: A Sunday night game.
Dawnne and I go with LSU. Everybody else picks Miami, even Alex.
Poor Canes. They’re going to get Ed Orgeron-ed. It’s not going to be pretty, either. It’s going to be just like it sounds. Orggggerrrronnnned.
Virginia Tech vs. Florida State:
Noah goes out on his lonesome and picks the Hokies. A hokie is a turkey. Noah likes turkey in all its incarnations — fried, roasted, creamed, chopped, burgerized or baked.
Naturally he picks the Hokies. The rest of us are going with the Free Shoes U Crableggers, as B.J.
South Carolina State vs. Georgia Southern:
Everybody takes the Iggles. Didn’t Southern go FBS? What happened?
Stephen F. Austin vs. Mississippi State:
The big news is Bulldogs quarterback Nick Fitzgerald, a former Richmond Hill star, is out on a onegame suspension. If you had to suspend him, this is the game to do it. Everybody takes Mississippi State, even Alex.
Louisville vs. Alabama:
B.J. is hoping for a Louisville upset because he pulls for Auburn and whoever plays ‘Bama.
The rest of us bow to the genius that is Nick Saban, the Vince Lombardi, Don Shula, Deputy Dawg and Bill Belichick of college football.
Michigan vs. Notre Dame:
Mark, Ted and Dawnne take the Irish.
Ted, a Michigan State alum, says he can’t pick Ann Arbor High. The rest of us take The Wolverine.
And that’s it for week 1.
Stay tuned for week 2, when South Carolina beats Georgia.
Whitten is editor of the Bryan County News.