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Jeff Whitten: The long and short and wide
editor's notes

Maybe you’ve read ‘em. Maybe not. Regardless, Pembroke Mafia Football League columns have appeared in this weekly newspaper semi-regularly during football season for years, with a semi-regular cast of real people trying to pick college football scores before the games are played because that’s how genuine made-in-the-USA college football picks columns work.

I bring it up because our CEO is pondering the PMFL’s future. But before we get into that, here’s a PMFL ORIGIN STORY, in case it ever becomes famous and people want to know how it all began.

You see, there was a time several years ago when the giant digital stadium-light billboard on Highway 17 at the 144 intersection was brand new and people swore you could see it from Midway. That’s evidently before they figured out how to turn the lights down a bit, or swap out 6,000 watt bulbs for something a little less glaring.

That was also when a certain editor thought he might be able to boost circulation by promising potential readers a dream date with a certain former reporter, an omnivore if ever there was one.

Said editor figured he could commission a professional photo of this omnivorous former reporter, who loved microwaving two-pound Hungry Man Salisbury steak TV dinners and foot-long burritos and had the physique to prove it. In the photo, the reporter would be posing like a reclining WWF wrestler in Speedos and roller skates with the caption WIN A DREAM DATE WITH (REPORTER’S NAME), SUBSCRIBE TO THE BRYAN COUNTY NEWS!

I figured that would draw subscribers out of the woodwork, since people love billboards that shine advertising at them while they’re stuck in traffic waiting for the light to hurry up and change. Yet for some reason out of the editor’s control that particular project never got off the ground, or onto the billboard anyway, because editors apparently are not allowed to play with billboards that don’t belong to them.

Still, out of the ashes of the great digital billboard dream-date caper the Pembroke Mafia Football League was born, and it’s gone clattering about on its own ever since.

That’s where the here-and-now comes in. Every year about this time PMFL Chairman B.J. Clark sends me a strangely-worded email in blue ink asking if it’s time to “knock this thing on the head,” and “stick a fork in it,” which is retired Navy talk for knocking something on the head and sticking a fork in it. They apparently like to do that, and then smother it in beans.

Anyway, if it’s time to fork-stick this thing, well, it’ll mean the end to a run which from the outset has included some of the world’s finest people, and I acknowledge them here.

There’s the great Mike Clark, who has groupies in Pooler, and the distinguished Mr. French lookalike also known as District 1 County Commissioner Noah Covington. And while he no longer participates, B.J.’s buddy and fellow American Legion Post 164 big cheese Ernie “I voted for Bernie” Mitchell, was a big part of the early days and is a PMFL member emeritus, as is a former pastor of Pembroke First Baptist Church, the Rev. Brad “Pistol St. Pete” Butler, now saving souls down in McIntosh County.

The PMFL has also included big shots such as Bryan County Schools Assistant Superintendents Dr. Trey Robertson and Melanie James, who cannot help her alma mater or choice of football program; and there’s Development Authority of Bryan County CEO Anna Chafin, who obviously had better things to do than hobnob with the help.

Current membership includes the Clarks as well as Bryan County Administrator Ben Taylor, who at 4-foot-8 in elevator shoes is the third tallest person ever to escape the Fire Ant Capital of the World.

In the ranks also are former Pembroke City Administrator Alex Floyd and his father, Pine Tree Baron Bob Floyd. The latter without shirtsleeves wanders about the wilds of North Bryan counting his pine cones so he doesn’t get overtaxed. You’ll know it’s a Floyd Pine Cone if it has a little FPC brand on its underbelly.

There’s the Rev. Lawrence Butler, on board to make us feel good about our chances in the next world; and Richmond Hill City Clerk Dawnne Greene, who actually knows more about football than I do even though she’s a girl.

Also on board is District 5 County Commissioner Dr. Gene Wallace, DMD, who should be in the county commission hall of fame for waxing eloquent about tater logs during a regular meeting.

Naturally, that meeting was in Pembroke. If he’d talked about tater logs in Richmond Hill someone would’ve sprayed him with Febreze.

There’s also the talented Ted O’Neil, a former BCN assistant editor and one of the best to ever do it, and the club secretary, ol’ Whiny Whitten.

And I’m remiss if I don’t note we have had some of the best team moms in the business to make sure we could pretend we had healthy snacks and juice boxes, such as the wonderful Marsha Clark, and Rose Mock, who is cooler all by herself than most of us put together. I recall at one point Richmond Hill Mayor Russ Carpenter’s wonderful mother, Jean, was reportedly willing to help out after it was noted in print her son had a Beatles haircut. It was much appreciated.

Along the way, and in addition to some of the finest football picking this side of (pick a side), we’ve managed to poke fun at a lot of things – the PMFL tried to be an equal opportunity offender, you see.

Will it be back? B.J. wants to know and is taking a survey, so feel free to stop by his house with a bucket of chicken livers and some tater logs and tell him your thoughts.

But knock first, so he’ll remember to put on his eating pants.

Whitten is editor of the Bryan County News. Don’t hold it against him.

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