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Much football-bonics going on in Pembroke
Pembroke Mafia Football League
Jeff Whitten NEW
Jeff Whitten is managing gnome of the Bryan County News.

Welcome to week 10 of the Pembroke Mafia Football League’s weekly exercise in football-bonics. For those who don’t know, the PMFL exists to pick football games.

I’m your host. This is partly because I’m the best looking, which isn’t saying much except that I’m the best looking. It’s also partly because I’m the only one who works for the newspaper, the rest having better things to do.

Which brings me to my point this week, which is this: In 20 years of doing this sort of thing for a sort of living, I have discovered that you can pretty much divide this great American United States of ours into two equal parts:

Those who work for newspapers and those have don’t because they better things to do.

The vast majority - say about 99.99999 percent — have better things to do, though some tell me they used to work for newspapers before they had epiphanies or strokes and as a result got into more important or more lucrative lines of work, such as selling stuff to people who think they want to buy stuff.

You can’t blame them. Selling stuff is the American way. So is buying stuff. That’s why we call ourselves consumers instead of people, but I am digressing.

The other equal part, that .01111 percent of us actually in the newspaper business, are usually divided up into two or three or maybe four or five tribal groups, I tend to lose count.

There are those who think they’re God’s gift to journalism, though here I must note most of them don’t actually work for newspapers or in print journalism, and certainly not at weekly newspapers, but are usually in some other form of media such as TV or PR or social media, where hubris and a high opinion of one’s self is a job requirement.

There are those who teach, and by and large they live up to that old adage that "those who can, do, those who can’t, teach," though I know an exception or two to that rule as well.

And then there are the rest of us poor souls, the ones who wake up each morning not sure we can distinguish our rear end from a hole in the ground with any degree of accuracy. At least not enough to report it. But we do it anyway. Nope, that’s a hole in the ground. Yep, that’s not a hole in the ground. Nope, yep, yep, nope.

Appearance wise, though I am of course an exception, most of us newspaper types either look like grouchy, skinny-legged little hairless gnomes — or, in the case of the female of our species, Gnome-ettes or Lady Gnomes, depending on your level of or stomach for political correctness. There are some who resemble big tall capitalist Bullwinkle moose with huge feet, shaved heads, Teddy Roosevelt moustaches and a penchant for wearing Dockers and spouting all sorts of free market claptrap about letting the market run the world.

And there was my first editor, who used to put about 30 stories on the front page and quote herself in stories.

In some ways, she reminded me of a sort of female shrub with glasses and bright yellow pants. And I once worked with an apparently lactose intolerant reporter who kept a spare set of false teeth in a drawer and was constantly leaning to one side and then getting up and leaving the newsroom for "some fresh air," and she was only in her 40s at that point.

Or maybe I’m remembering that wrong, but then what the heck. This is newspapering, and we’re allowed a margin of error sometimes. Besides, I tend to look at our tiny band of brothers and sisters as a family, despite the differences and our many foibles and shortcomings. The real world may pay better and have better hours, but there’s no profession on earth I would rather call my own than being one of those guys who isn’t sure what’s a hole in the ground and what is something else entirely.

Besides, how else would I get to hang out with the guys in the PMFL? I’m talking B.J. Clark and Ernie Mitchell and Noah Covington and Mike Clark and Mark Rogerson and Trey Robertson, true fellows and great Americans all. Remind me to tell you all about them some time.

On to the picks:

Alabama vs. LSU: Everybody takes Alabama except me and Trey, because we know what old Ed Orgeron’s cooking in the swamp down there in Bayou Bengal Land.

It’s some elephant ear fricassee, that’s what.

Florida vs. Arkansas: Everybody is going with the Mullets except for Trey and Noah. I am abstaining. Don’t like either state.

Vanderbilt vs. Auburn: Everybody’s on the Awwwwbern scooter.

Georgia Southern vs. Ole Miss: Everybody except B.J. is taking the Rebels. The Eagles are trying out a new offensive coordinator this week, but it won’t help fix what’s broken in Statesboro. Bring back the triple option.

Georgia vs. Kentucky: Ah, some dissension in our ranks on this one. Ernie, Trey and I take Kentucky. Everybody else thinks the Bulldogs will pull out a win. They’re wrong.

Mizzou vs. South Carolina: Everybody’s taking South Carolina except me and Mike. I don’t know about Mike, but I’ve learned over about half a century of being a devout Gamecock that the Chicken Curse is real. Just when you think things are looking up, they’re looking down again.

Arkansas State vs. Georgia State: Does anyone actually care about this game? Ernie takes Georgia State. The rest of our hardy band selects Arkansas State. I do so under protest that I shouldn’t have to pick this sort of game. It’s like having to pick between the Dollar General or Family Dollar. Nothing wrong with either store, but if they played each other in football would you go watch?

Virginia Tech vs. Duke: Everybody’s on the Hokies bus. Even I, your host.

Georgia Tech vs. North Carolina: Ernie and Noah take Heels, the rest take the scrambling Wreck.

Florida State vs. North Carolina State: Crab Leg U is a unanimous pick.

Texas vs. Texas Tech: B.J. and Trey and me say Tech wins. Rest pick the Longhorns. Beevos!

Oregon vs. USC: B.J., Mike, Trey and Noah pick Southern Cal, the rest go with Nike U. Except me. I pick the other USC.

Tulane vs. Central Florida: Hey, look, it’s the frontrunners for the Wheedwhacker Old Milwaukee’s Best JROTC Federal Credit Union Gorilla Glue Manny’s Burritos Mistletoe Bowl in sunny downtown Toledo, Illinois - or wherever Toledo is. Everybody picks Central Florida except me. I’m in on Tulane.

Air Force vs. Army: Jeff Monken, please come home. Mark and Mike take Air Force; the rest of us take Army. And we all know who would win if Army and Air Force got into a fight, right? That’s right.

South Alabama vs. Louisiana Monroe: I’m a South Bama fan. I don’t know why. Ernie takes Warhawks. What’s a war hawk? Rest of us go with the Jaguars.

And with that, my fingers hurt from typing so until next week, be nice to cats, dogs, college students, children, the elderly and real estate agents.

Whitten is a font of arcane knowledge and loves to talk about how driving really isn’t any fun anymore because of all the traffic. Just ask him.

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