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Jeff Whitten: The return of the Pembroke Mafia
editor's notes

Editor’s note: Next week we’ll move this to another page and free up this space for real opinion.

Sometimes, it seems the Pembroke Mafia Football League has been around forever. Sometimes it seems like it just started yesterday.

The thing is, nobody knows how long the PMFL has been in existence – least of all anybody actually in it – but it’s proving harder for me to kill off than Will Muschamp’s coaching career.

After all, one minute the guy’s getting fired from Florida and South Carolina, the next his name is associated with Nebraska’s job, which isn’t even open at the moment but such is the life of a college football coach other than Nick Saban or Dabo Swinney-Poppins.

Anyhow, all that to say this: Not only is the PMFL back, but it’s bigger than ever.

Yep. Here’s what happened.

When Texas and Oklahoma said they wanted to join the Southeastern Football Conference, aka the real SEC (and not some namby pamby U.S. Securities and Exchanges Commission), the PMFL brain-trust held a secret lunch meeting at the Black Creek Golf Club and decided in order to keep pace with the finest college football conference in the land the Pembroke Mafia would have to expand and add some more big shots.

So we did. Welcome to our three newest members – Bryan County Commission Chairman Carter Infinger, area sports writing legend Mike Brown and Bryan County Emergency Services Director Freddy Howell.

They join our current mafia membership, which includes our chairman, retired Navy Chief Master Admiral Petty Officer and Pembroke American Legion Post 164 Big Cheese B.J. Clark; District 1 Commissioner Noah “King of the North” Covington; and PMFL Minister of Tractor Parts Mike “Vanilla Mike” Clark, who has groupies in Pooler.

We also have on board District 5 Commissioner Dr. Gene “The Left-handed Lima Bean” Wallace, who tends to favor a certain comedian who smacks watermelons with a mallet; Bryan County Administrator Ben Taylor, who at 3-foot-7-1/2 is the second tallest man ever to escape from the Fire Ant Capitol of the World; and Pine Tree Kingpin Bob Floyd, whose family owns more pine cones by themselves than the rest of Bryan County’s 40,000 residents do if you put all their pine cones together in a pile and look at them.

And then there’s Mr. Alex Floyd, who actually wears slippers and a sweater around the house and smokes a pipe and has patches on his sleeves even though he’s hardly turned 30 yet; and the Rev. Lawrence Butler, the PMFL’s spiritual advisor and insurance against plagues and getting smote by wrathful lightning; and Dawnne Greene, Richmond Hill’s city clerk and one of two resident yankees in the PMFL; the other is former Bryan County News Assistant Editor Ted O’Neil, a Michigan State alumnus who has naturally curly hair and lives in Michigan for some reason.

And of course there’s yours truly, also known as that dumb fat little editor with the extra-large head. Howdy.

Anyhow, as is our practice in the PMFL, members must be publicly ridiculed or else they wouldn’t feel as if they belonged.

It is a hazing ritual of sorts, but much better than applying Icy Hot to jock straps or putting a dead mullet under the seat of someone’s car and then giggling a lot while it decomposes, like B.J. tends to do whenever we start plotting this stuff.

Anyhow, as the PMFL has grown, it’s taken a while to get around to B.J.’s requirement that each member get figuratively sauced up and grilled over charcoal to a satisfyingly crispy crunch– so this year we’re going to have a fish in the barrel day and everyone will take turns in the barrel. I don’t know what that means, exactly, but we’ll start with a few quick notes about each of our new members.

Carter Infinger. What can be said about the chairman of the Bryan County Commission that hasn’t already been said? Well, for starters he went to Newberry College and was a member of Delta House’s rival fraternity, where he was known as Greg Marmalard and played on the tennis team and beat up a teddy bear after he found out his girlfriend was seeing Otter behind his back.

Carter is mostly famous for his catch phrase, the old “that’s right, that’s right.”

In fact, you could probably tell Carter aliens had landed in the Bark Park and were taking poodles prisoners and get the same response: “That’s right,” Carter said. “That’s right.”

In Latin that’s “sic, sic.”

I kid you not. It seems like there would be more Latin there, but that’s what Google’s English to Latin translator says.

“Sic, sic.”

Oh, and word is Carter carries a lot of those self-adhesive “googly eye” things in his pockets so he can stick them on county property like roundabouts and fishing docks at night when nobody’s looking.

Nobody is sure why, but it’s apparently something he learned in his native Charleston, S.C., where they tend to put on airs to go with their googly eyes.

“To which Carter sayeth: “That’s right, that’s right.”

Mike Brown. This man is not only a decorated U.S.

Marine officer, he’s also a sports writing legend here and in his native West Virginia, which is the first line of defense against the state of Ohio.

Sure, West Virginia hasn’t been able to stem the tide of Ohio transplants coming in this direction (another 2,000 showed up yesterday in socks and sandals wearing Buckeye shirts and waving Salt Life stickers), but that’s not Mike Brown’s fault.

He’s a member of the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame (or something like that) and the British Broadcasting Corporation once called him the world’s foremost authority on chicken throwing, or turkey leaping, or something.

Mike Brown has also spoken at Rotary Clubs, and I have it on pretty good authority he did so while going commando, as the kids put it these days.

Chief “Ready” Freddy Howell. Freddy is from Waycross, for starters, so he is prone to saying things that don’t make sense to anyone who didn’t grow up in a swamp skinning swamp marsupials for their livers.

Case in point: Q: “Hey chief, how you doing today?”

A: “Like a hair in a biscuit.”

Q: Is that good?

A: “Goot? Erks, bus moss’n up old geezers froots cain’t woltersplack to thars big lectric eels. Needs lotion.”

Q: Ah, OK, thanks.

A: “Naraproglem. Reckon goomer shindy shandy up er stumptaters wither bass puddering fer tailergate. com? Hmmm.”

Howell, the 2014 state firefighter of the year, descended from Obediah Barber, who once killed a bear with his bare hands down in Waycross and was later buried in the Black Creek Church Cemetery.

“Tharflex twangled old bar up half a waller moonpie pickle bloomers drover stake thru its hart,” said Freddy. “Bees everywhar. Scary.”

One last bit of housekeeping.

We’ve divided up into teams again this year to give it that North Bryan versus South Bryan vibe because let’s face it – half the people in South Bryan wouldn’t know where Pembroke is if you dropped it on their heads. And, half the people in North Bryan wish Richmond Hill would just shut up and leave regular people alone.

We’ll get into who’s on what team next week, but there seems to be some dissension in the ranks already. More that to come.

Here are this week’s picks, brought to you by B.J. Clark, commander of the North Bryan Navy.

North Carolina at Virginia Tech: Mike, Alex, Bob, Dawnne, Freddy and me pick the Hokies. Everybody else takes the Tar Holes.

Michigan State at Northwestern: Mike Alex, Bob, Rev. Lawrence, Ted and Freddy take Michigan State. Those of us with some couth pick Northwestern.

Penn State at Wisconsin: Bob, Dawnne and your’s truly take the Nittany Lions. The rest select the Badgers.

Savannah State at Valdosta State: Rev. Lawrence, Dawnne and Ted take Savannah State. Rest of us pick Titletown’s college team. UGA vs. Clemson: B.J., Alex, Mike Brown, Carter and Ted take the orange puke. Everyone else goes with the Dawgs, even me, and Clemson and Georgia make up the top two of my unholy trinity of college football programs. At No. 3 is Ohio State.

Army vs. Georgia State; Alex, Bob, Ben and Freddy pick Gag State. The rest of us select Jeff Monken and Army, and, as B.J. puts it, “God Bless all those who suffer in Afghanistan and those who gave their all. Go Army, Navy and the Military.”

Marshall at Navy: Mike Brown, a Marshall alumnus, Mike Clark, Ben, Carter, Ted and Freddy pick the Chundering Herd. The rest of us take the squiddies, and “God Bless them and their efforts for our country also.”

Remember to be nice to kids and senior citizens, thank a first responder today and, as always, Go Gamecocks and Iggles.

Whitten is a South Carolina native from a long line of South Carolina natives. Someday he’s going to get fired for this column, wait and see. Sic, sic.

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