By Ryan Divish/Havre Daily News Sports Editorfirstname.lastname@example.org
The first time I met George Ferguson, he was a mouthy little smart aleck with a permanent red Kool-Aid stain on his upper lip and the only boy in kindergarten interested in kissing the girls.
Little did I know, that the same little smart aleck and I would be friends for the next 23 years.
Not much has changed since then. George's Kool-Aid stains are at least gone, and the girls have been limited to just one now. During that time, George's mom, Linda, was there watching our group of friends - six boys - destroy her living room, her supply of Pepsi and Ding Dongs and her last moments of serenity.
"I remember a sleepover for one George's birthdays and we rented the Rocky movies," Linda said. "You guys were so funny, you all kept turning around asking me if I thought Rocky was going to win."
Hey, we were 8-years-old at the time.I still believed I was going to be a cowboy when I got older.
We have had numerous requests to have a feminine presence on Armchair Quarterbacks. Since George was supposed to secure this week's picker and didn't, I decided to have his mom make the picks and thoroughly embarrass him by getting more games right.
Don't think for a second that she won't. Linda knows her sports. Her older son, Dan, is a former Havre Daily News sports editor and we all know about George's obsession with sports. They had to get their love of sports from someone and it was Linda.
Football definitely isn't her strong suit. Linda's passion is, or at least used to be, basketball. In particular, basketball games played by a certain gentleman wearing the number 23.
No, not LeBron James, the real number 23.
On one occasion, I remember being over at George's and hearing Linda ask ...
"Did you see Michael's game tonight, George?"
"He was amazing, I have a video of it if you want to watch," Linda said.
They continued to talk at length about Michael this and Michael that. How great Michael was, and how Michael's family was there to watch.
Finally, I said to George, "I didn't know you had a cousin named Michael."
"No, you idiot," he said. "Michael Jordan."
Oh, I guess in the Ferguson household they are on a first-name basis with MJ.
To say Linda is a Jordan fan would be an insult, she is much more than a fan. I know she has a Birmingham Barons T-shirt somewhere in her closet from when Jordan tried playing baseball.
She probably has more Chicago Bulls games on tape, than games I've actually watched. Then there are the souvenirs from Jordan action figures, to basketball cards, T-shirts and, of course, the priceless Jordan autograph. I know there has to be a laser-guided security system guarding it.
She also has a passion for history with an extensive library of books on the Civil War, the Vietnam War and her favorite subject - John F. Kennedy, Jr.
Linda, who teaches fourth grade at St. Jude Thaddeus school, asked for a little help on some of her picks, on others her loyalty as a fan remained true. Like George, she is a Viking fan and circled that game immediately after choosing the Ponies to win.
She went with both Montana schools, but only after taking a long time to choose the Bobcats, which you gotta love. Linda is so loyal to the Griz, she also went with former Griz coach Joe Glenn and his Wyoming Cowboys to upset Boise St.
It's obvious that Linda has more patience than most people after dealing with George and me in our youth, but she must have it for her job. She's been teaching fourth graders for the past 10 years of her 16-year teaching career.
"It's a special age," Linda said.
Yeah, special like tornadoes are "special" gusts of wind.
But her love for children and education has rubbed off on her family as her daughter Tricia is a teacher and George is majoring in education at MSU-Northern.
"If you want to be a teacher, my advice is to be sure you love children," Linda said. "And don't go into it for the money."
This week's games feature both Kegel brothers. Matt, who is the starting quarterback for Washington State, will face his toughest test of the season when he travels to raucous and rowdy Autzen Stadium to take on the Oregon Ducks. Justin made his college debut last week for Montana Tech and he will see action against MSU-Northern on Saturday.
Big Sandy and Chester meet in a key Northern C clash, but the game of the week has to be the Ponies at Belgrade which has serious playoff implications.
Last week was pretty tough one on our panel of experts - this expert in particular. Our guest Patrick Winderl and Barry Zanto tied with 13-5 records, while George and Wells finished at 12-6. Harvey and I came in last with 11-7 records, but at least I got the Bobcats losing to Cal Poly right. The high of having a better record than the Griz has finally worn off for the Cats and their coaches. Sorry, I couldn't help myself.
As always, we are soliciting requests or suggestions for guest pickers. We have a few in mind, but there is still plenty of room for more.