In keeping with a longstanding Christmas tradition that is approximately two or three or maybe even four years old, it’s time for the annual Pembroke Mafia Football League Christmas column.
It’s a column in which our fearless founder, B.J. Clark, retired Navy and a big kahuna in Pembroke American Legion Post 164, dresses up like Santa Claus and hangs out at the Dollar General store.
Store management has threatened to call the police on him if he doesn’t quit, but B.J. is nothing if not Navy. And as we all know too well from past experience, guys who ride around in big boats for much of their lives love to spend their golden years dressed up like Santa Claus eating bowls full of jelly and chortling.
They’re also the same guys who put those stupid stuffed reindeer horns and noses on their cars and dogs and wives and anything else that will stand still long enough for them to slip the bungee cord under the bumper.
It’s also a column in which our fearless Pembroke Mafia politician, Noah Covington, a real life county commissioner who has Vladimir Putin’s personal cell phone number and is not afraid to use it, ponders a run for higher office.
Maybe, maybe not.
Noah once thought he would do well in Atlanta, which is just like Pembroke only bigger and it has one or two more state highways running through it.
But ever since Donald Trump won - delighting Noah and countless others - our very own Pembroke Mafia "governator" has been hinting his ambitions may lie in a higher sphere.
I can say no more at the moment, except this: Noah and Putin are also Facebook friends. And Noah’s grown his beard back, making him look vaguely Russian. Like Tolstoy, or maybe Chekov.
It’s a column which also features amazingly brilliant and exciting luminaries such as Anna Chafin, who is the Pembroke Mafia’s golden head of taking over the world through tax breaks and other incentives she doesn’t like to talk about.
This is because Anna is also CEO of the Development Authority of Bryan County – which before she got there used to spell words with an ‘e’ on the end, probably because they thought it sounded more "upscale." Thus we had such oddities as "Centre" on the back end of "Ye Olde Interstate Commerce Centre."
There’s the Pembroke Mafia’s director of education, Trey Robertson, the perpetually harassed assistant superintendent of Bryan County Schools. If South Bryan gets a third high school, it’s Trey’s fault. I’m starting to think superintendents and school board members are all frustrated architects who spend their afternoons playing Sim City.
The column also features the great Ernie "Ernie" Mitchell, retired Navy and a heck of a dude who supposedly not only taught karate to Chuck Norris but also explained the Cliff Note Guide to Circumventing NCAA rules to famed crab-leg connoisseur Jameis Winston.
It’s a column which includes such elliptical but less public geniuses as Mike "Vanilla Spice" Clark; Mark "Pinto Bean" Rogerson; Ted "Twiggy" O’Neil and your’s truly, me.
Combined, we’re the Pembroke Mafia Football League.
Now that the introductions are out of the way, it’s time to give a few Christmas gifts. I’m winging it, by the way. Making it all up as I go along and proof once again that print deadlines make people do weird things.
For Georgia fans everywhere: An appreciation for the finer things in life, such as indoor plumbing.
For Georgia Southern fans: A return to option football and less hubris. Look it up.
For Georgia Tech fans: You’ve got the greatest coach in college football, what more could you want? Wait, maybe a date with a real girl? Sorry, no can do. Santa’s too busy singing sea shanties while he roams the cat snacks aisle at Dollar General.
For Ohio State fans: A one-way bus ticket to the Buckeye State.
For Alabama fans: Teeth.
For Clemson fans: Toothpaste.
For Gamecock fans: Nick Saban.
I was going to do the standings this week, but because Trey and Noah were once again late in getting in their selections for this week I’m going to jump straight to the picks.
Brigham Young vs. Wyoming: Mark and yours truly take Wyoming. The rest of the Mafia are backing the Cougars.
Colorado State vs. Idaho: Ted, Mark and Jeff take Idaho. Remember the B-52’s and "Private Idaho?"
"You’re living in your own Private Idaho/Living in your own Private Idaho/underground like a wild potato/Don’t go on the patio/Beware of the pool/Blue bottomless pool/it leads you straight, right through the gate/That opens on the pool."
I have no clue, but you could dance to it.
Old Dominion vs. Eastern Michigan: Ted, Trey, Anna and Mark take Eastern Michigan – the Eagles, I looked it up – the rest of us take ODU.
Louisiana Tech vs. Navy: Anna and yours truly take La. Tech, the rest take Navy.
Troy vs. Ohio: Mike and Ted take Ohio, the rest of us crazy kids pick Troy State. That’s in Alabama. You can buy dentures in Alabama for $20. They advertise them on billboards. Alabama is the denture capitol of the world. I think dentures are Alabama’s official state teeth. Or, as they say in Alabama, tooths.
Middle Tennessee vs. Hawaii: Noah, Trey and Anna take the whatever MTSU’s mascot is. The rest of us pick that other team.
Mississippi State vs. Miami of Ohio: Mark and me take the Redhawks or Redbirds or Redkegs or whatever they call themselves. Everybody else is rolling with the Bulldogs from Starkville.
Boston College vs. Maryland: Ted and Mark take Maryland, which may give Oregon a run for ugliest uniform in college football; the rest of us are picking BC. Doug Flutie played there, in case you didn’t know. He was like Rudy, only better.
North Carolina State vs. Vanderbilt: B.J. and Ernie take the Wolfpack – it probably sounds like a cool car club to them – the rest of us go with Vandy. Ever had Vandy’s barbecue in Statesboro? Not bad.
North Texas State vs. Army: Anna takes North Texas State for some weird reason. The rest of us go with Army. When I was actually in the Army in Germany back when people thought the Army was for dummies I’d pull for Navy just to make the officers in my unit mad. Now I’m old and sentimental and pull for Army. Besides, Jeff Monken is the coach there. I like Jeff. We’re name samies.
Temple vs. Wake Forest: Mike, Noah, B.J. and Trey take Temple. Everyone else goes with Wake Forest. Except me. I changed my mind and am taking the Shirleys.
Washington State vs. Minnesota: Mark and Ted take Minnesota - Ted’s from Michigan, so he likes that kind of state - the rest of us go with the Cougars from Corvallis. I don’t know how I knew that. Probably from watching Keith Jackson back in the day.
Boise State vs. Baylor: Mark picks Baylor. Rest of us pick Boise.
Atlanta vs. Panthers: I’m the only one picking Carolina.
Minnesota Vikings vs. Green Bay Packers: Everybody backing the Pack.
And that’s it for this week.
Except for this.
Remember, you can pick your nose, you can pick your friends, you can even join in and pick football games next season with the Pembroke Mafia, but you can’t pick your family.
Merry Christmas from the Pembroke Mafia Football League. And call Noah. He’s giving out free Boston butts tomorrow.