Furman Bisher gives thanks

Oh, ho, thought you were rid of me, eh? Well, I can’t go away without our annual Thanksgiving visit. I’m in a state of what is known as “retirement,” but I’m not sure I’m a contented convert.

Retiring, I’ve come to realize, requires a certain talent that doesn’t come naturally in some cases, and I guess I’m one of those cases.

You can play just so much golf, catch just so many fish, get caught up on luncheons in a hurry — not that I’ve done a lot of any of them — and come to realize that one of your most valuable functions is getting the garbage out.

As you have surmised, I don’t know that I’ve retired very well.

I have come to appreciate an afternoon nap, but after that, what?

Best of all, there’s Lynda (“y” instead of “i”), and I know now why in Spanish her name translates to “pretty,” and thus my entree to the list of other gifts of life to be thankful for, some with tongue in cheek:

● That Matt Ryan came along before I drew the …

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Transcontinental memories of ’so many fun’ mark the end

Editor’s note: This is Furman Bisher’s final column for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  Read more:
Past columns. His last one is below. Read his first one including his moving tribute to his late son and several others.
Photos of his career. Even one where he’s playing football.
Video: Bisher reflects on his very first column for the paper

It was April 15, income tax day, in 1950 that this all began. Usually, such a run as this rarely ever carries on this long. Perhaps my act has worn thin. Perhaps I have over-stayed my time. But to an old warrior such as I, it isn’t easy finding an appropriate ending place.

My mind wanders back to the Falcons’ first flirtation with glory. They led the Dallas Cowboys into the shadows of a Sunday afternoon in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, 60,222 fans in a state of exhilaration, a division championship a breath away when the defense broke down. It was over and a city was left heartbroken.

It had been such a colossal event that even …

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Two bad trades cost Braves this season

If you’re trying to place blame on when the Braves blew their shot at making the playoffs, it wasn’t when Matt Diaz was caught off base trying to score against the Florida Marlins. That would have made the score only 5-5, and the game could still have been won.

And it wasn’t when Frank Wren was slow to pull the trigger on John Smoltz, leaving him to hook up with the Red Sox. Nor when Tom Glavine was turned down, in essence making way for Tommy Hanson in the pitching rotation. Au contraire, a stroke of glowing luck.

No, it goes way back longer than that. (And with this, I promise never to bring it up again.) It was when the Braves traded Adam Wainwright — as if he wasn’t enough — and Jason Marquis to the Cardinals for J.D. Drew, the nomadic outfielder. (Eli Marrero, the mysterious Latin also came along, but he created more dilemma than offense.)

And, of course, more recently the disastrous deal that robbed the farm system of five high-grade prospects to Texas for Mark Teixeira, …

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Winning the Tour Championship should mean more

I’d say that, in the long run, Sean O’Hair said it more succinctly.

The Tour Championship was done. Phil Mickelson had not just won, he had blitzed the field. Eighteen holes with five birdies and nary a bogey, a round of 65, five strokes better than Tiger Woods, who finished second.

But in the winner’s circle there were two champions to crown.

O’Hair had spent the day partnering Mickelson — he shot 69 and finished third — and he was trying to answer questions about how the day had gone. You see, not a lot of us, including the players, have a clear idea of how the FedEx Cup competition works.

“Did Tiger make a par there?” he asked, speaking of the 17th hole.

Assured that Tiger had, he said, “So he won the FedEx Cup then.”

Yeah, Phil won the battle, but Tiger won the war, meaning that Mickelson had won the Tour Championship, but Tiger had won the oddly designed FedEx Cup, and the loot.

“I’d prefer, I think, to have the $10 million dollars in my pocket,” …

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Perry inches closer to big payday

Kenny Perry is about as country as a pair of bib overalls. (Which he occasionally wears.) He lives in the country, no reflection on Franklin, Ky., where he has always been home. He decided Franklin needed a golf course, so he built one, bought 142 acres and borrowed $2.5 million to foot the bill. Naturally, he named it Country Creek.

Rees Jones and Tom Fazio and all those other designers of golf courses are safe. Kenny won’t be horning in on their trade. Country Creek looks nice from the interstate, makes you want to stop and play nine. But I’ll tell you, the little course will weary your limbs. It’s not, I might add, the kind of club that invites wedding parties and frou-frou fandangos.

But that’s not what we’re here to talk about today. We’re talking about Kenny Perry, who would be the club pro, if Country Creek had one. He’s busy on the road, has been since 1987, and going into this season had earned $26-million-plus playing the PGA Tour. He has contributed mightily to the …

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Welcome to East Lake!

Gentlemen, start your bateaux! We hope you enjoy another year at East Lake, whose waters have been refreshed by seasonal rains. Blushingly, we welcome the imposing figure of Tiger Woods back into the field. To say he has been missed is to say that we have no appreciation for the 71 percent increase his presence has meant to Tour events.

Look at the PGA Tour roll out all those percentages it has in its book. It can bounce the Tour Championship around from one date to another, to avoid NFL kickoffs, tight major league pennant races, Georgia and Georgia Tech football weekends — and let me warn all ye outlanders that when you dally around with Bulldog and Yellow Jacket conflicts, you have trouble, my friend — and in the long run, only the presence of Tiger Woods can make a real difference.

Sorry, but such is the economic tightrope the Tour Championship walks. And frankly, in this part of the sporting world, it isn’t likely to change. Then this week, the rainmaker goes on a …

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Cox can’t walk away from richly stocked Braves

It comes to my attention that there has been widespread discussion on the matter of the Braves and just who might be their manager next season. Of course, isn’t that always the case when one guy had been in command long enough to have raised a family? Such may be said of Bobby Cox, who has managed the Braves since 1978, interrupted by four years across the Canadian border, then a return of five seasons preparing to resume the chair that Ted Turner had kept warm for him.

It was Turner himself, never given to shyness, who said at the press conference when Cox was being fired, that if he was hiring a manager to succeed Cox, it would be — well, Bobby Cox. So the two Rover Boys were reunited until Turner himself eventually took leave.

So it is that when a manager is of Social Security age, and his team has gone one October after another without a booking, people wonder. People talk. People wonder if he might not be ready for the farm. They forget that Casey Stengel managed …

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Tech’s Johnson ranks with the greatest

If I had to go to a football game — and I’ll say this with all honesty — I’d pick one in which Paul Johnson is coaching. This is not some overnight observation. This comes from a guy who has seen Neyland, Dodd, Blaik, Wade and Lombardi coach, not to mention having sat for hours with Bob Zuppke. You know, the guy who coached Red Grange at Illinois.

Of course, they’re all gone now, so I’m left with the new fella at Georgia Tech, like it or not. I bring this up after an evening of watching him on “white-out night” Thursday — and let me add, that I despise mid-week night football games. This may or may not appeal in the least to the present-day students in the stands.

(Though, did you notice that during the Georgia Tech-Clemson game, a synchronized cheer of “Fight, fight, fight” broke out in the quite intelligent home-team section? That’s old-time Ivy League stuff that you don’t hear any more, drowned out by that dreadful pregame ear-splitting stuff.)

On …

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Where does Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game go from here?

You kiddin’ me? Georgia and Georgia Tech in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game? Surely, they jest.

I swear I heard it being bandied about on one of those sports radio shows the other morning. Just the thought of Georgia and Georgia Tech doing their annual conflict any place but on campus is a serious case of mental illness. In the first place, the whole city of Athens would rise up in rebellion, especially the merchants and the chamber of commerce.
They already miss out on the stimulus they might have if Jacksonville hadn’t monopolized the Florida game. And that one is locked in, as is the Texas-Oklahoma game in Dallas. Not only that, but the Georgia-Georgia Tech game is on campus. It ain’t budging.

They played once at old Ponce de Leon, the baseball park. Right now, though, let Atlanta Sports Council have its day, and let the city feast on these Alabama and Virginia Tech guests who feed our municipal coffers, and blessings be to Gary Stokan and his industrious confreres. What …

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Paul Johnson’s message is clear

Since the first time I had a conversation with Paul Johnson, seated in his office at Georgia Southern University, one thing sticks out in my mind: He never changes. He is comfortable with his life. My wife was with me, and he invited her to join us, which she did and soon joined in the fun herself.

A lot of coaches I know would have begun squirming about and looking for a way to bring this intrusion to an end. Not this coach. He has roamed the planet since he left Newland, N.C., (pop. 709), county seat of Avery County (pop. 17,167).

He played for a high school coach who left his mark on him as a lad. Western Carolina was his next move, but he never played football. He broke into coaching at his old high school, for the same coach he’d played for. Appalachian State was next, for a master’s degree, then the coaching whirligig began, at Lees-McRae, a junior college not far from his hometown.

From Lees-McRae to Georgia Southern to Hawaii to Navy, back to Georgia Southern, and …

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