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Pembroke Mafia Football League: Veterans Day and the Gronkette
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Some of you may know the Pembroke Mafia Football League is a veteran- friendly organization with actual veterans as members. First there’s B.J. Clarke, who is retired Navy and Ernie Mitchell, who is also a retired Navy. I was peacetime Army, except for the Cold War. So, while B.J. and Ernie were busy wearing Speedos, winning wars and saving the world from communists, I spent my whole six years in the fieId artillery hiding from sergeants. That’s when they weren’t hiding me from high-ranking officers. Especially in Germany, where for some reason NCOs and offices thought I was a surfer dude.

“Specialist Whitten, you take your surfer buddies and go hide until the general leaves, you read me? I don’t want to see you around the battery area.”

“I read you, First Sergeant.”

“And if the general does see you, don’t say anything.”

“Understood, Top (first sergeant’s like it when specialists call them ‘Top’). Mum’s the word.”

And so, when a particular general ran into a bunch of us strolling merrily back onto Fiori Kaserne from a downtown bar one rainy afternoon in Aschaffenburg while carrying beer bottles in every cargo pocket we had and forgetting to salute people with stars on them, he asked us whose battery we were in.

I naturally told him my first sergeant said we weren’t allowed to talk to generals and then offered him a beer. Later that night I learned a toothbrush is an effective tool for cleaning both latrines and baseboards. And that’s why the PMFL works so well. We have military discipline.

We also have government bureaucrats with the power to raise taxes to make sure we don’t run out of staplers, or sunscreen and snacks. Ernie’s big on sunscreen with the appropriate amount of DEET in it. B.J’s big on snacks. I enjoy a good stapler. As for our civilian partners, well we’ve got the best you could ever ask for and they all have nicknames and wrestling aliases.

I’m talking about local legends like Bryan County District 1 Commissioner Noah “King of the North” Covington, our great state’s next governor, who wrestles under the alias “Mr. Giblets.” Or Pembroke City Administrator Alex “Sneaky Feet” Floyd, also known as “The Dance Instructor.”

There’s Richmond Hill City Clerk and Elections Guru Dawnne “Duanne” Greene, who wrestles in the womens’ division under the moniker “The Golden Gronkette.” Here’s Bryan County Administrator Ben “Twinkle Toes” Taylor, known to wrestling fans worldwide as “The Argyle Strangler” for his daring sockwear.

And over there is the elusive Dr. Trey “Turnip Truck” Robertson, assistant superintendent of Bryan County Schools operations and maintenance or something important like that. Up in Black Creek they call him “The Ginger Ghost.” Now you see him, now you won’t. And, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our spiritual advisor, First Baptist Church of Pembroke Pastor Brad “The Rev’ Butler. He wrestles under the handle, “Pistol St. Pete.”

Who else? We’ve got Mark “Dean’s List” Rogerson, our youngest member and a real college student. Don’t let that fool you. He’s known far and wide among the wrestling literati as “The Blue Air Biscuit.”

And how about Mike “Vanilla Mike” Clark, our logistics chief? He’s known in some parts stores as “Mr. Bikini Bottoms,” for reasons I can’t say in a real newspaper. And there’s also former Bryan County News assistant editor and all round wonderful Michiganese-ite-onian-asaurus Ted “Michigan State” O’Neal, known in wrestling lingo as “The Deleter.”

Now, standings with number of misses through 10 weeks: 1. Golden Gronkette, 36:2. The Argyle Strangler, 39; 3. The Deleter, 40; 4. Tie, The Blue Air Biscuit, The Ginger Ghost, 42; 5. Mr. Bikini Bottoms, 43; 6. Ernie and B.J., 44; 7. Pistol St. Pete, 45; 8. The Dance Instructor, 46; 9. Mr. Giblets 48; 10. Me, with 56.

This week’s picks: Auburn vs. UGA: Me and B.J. pick Awwwwwburn. Everybody else is on the UGA bandwagon. Piffle.

Troy vs. Georgia Southern: Everybody takes the Iggles, one week after they laid an egg down in Monroe, La.

Ole Miss vs. Texas A& M: Few things are weirder in college football than the Yell Leaders at A& M. They look like Wally Cleaver at MayfieId High. Everybody takes the Aggies.

Kentucky vs. Tennessee: Everybody takes the Wildcats.

South Carolina vs. Florida: Me, Mike, Ted and B.J. rock USC.

Louisville vs. Syracuse: Everybody takes Syracuse, alma mater of Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly and Ernie Davis. And Matthew Zeller, a politician and Army veteran who is co-founder of No One Left Behind, a nonprofit “dedicated to resettling Afghan and Iraqi translators and other wartime allies who served the US at war.” That’s way better than having Rick Petrino as your coach.

TCU vs. WVU: Everybody picks the Mountaineers. Miami vs. Georgia Tech: We’re all picking the Rambling Wreck.

Ohio State vs. Michigan State: Mark, Ernie, Ben and the Rev. Pistol St. Pete pick the Buckeyes. Everybody else goes with Ted’s alma mater.

Texas vs. Texas Tech: Me, Ben, the Rev., Alex, Duanne, Trey and Ted take the Red Raiders. Rest of us go with the Longhorns.

Valdosta State vs. West Georgia: Trey picks West Georgia, where his son plays soccer. Rest go with VSU.

Finally, Samford vs. The Citadel: Everybody takes El Cid because it’s a military school and they run PJ’s option.

Happy Veterans day to all you heroes who came home out there.

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