Mark Bradley blog 

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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The Knowledge: 16 things I’ve learned in England

  • 2:55 pm Friday, October 24th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
There's no English pub nearby. There is, however, this. (M. Bradley)

London

1. Everyone has a favorite football team (and not the American kind), and some of the affiliations are nearly ancient. Owen, our bus driver to the Falcons’ complex in Watford, is a Chelsea supporter because his father saw his first Chelsea game in 1939.

2. My seatmate on the train ride from Sunningdale to Waterloo Station recalled in great detail the massive upset his team — Swindon Town, then as now a lower-division side — sprang over Arsenal in the 1969 League Cup (not to be confused with the FA Cup) final. The man is now retired, but he volunteers [More]

Stafford and Megatron: Living the life in Bagshot

  • 11:54 am Thursday, October 23rd, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Calvin Johnson (right) goes incognito at the Lions' practice Thursday. (Matt Dunham/AP photo)

London – If anything, the Detroit Lions’ England HQ is even swankier than the Atlanta Falcons’. It’s the Pennyhill Park Hotel outside Bagshot, and if you’re within spitting distance of Bagshot … well, you’re in clover.

Megan, our indispensable guide, noted that Bagshot is something of “a one-horse town,” but apparently the horse is Secretariat. Edward and Sophie — “a couple of the lesser Royals,” Megan said — live at Bagshot Park, and the next town over is Sunningdale, which has both a Rolls-Royce dealership and a quaint little train station, the latter of which was used by me this afternoon [More]

The Falcons in England: Julio takes a pricey ride

  • 11:25 am Wednesday, October 22nd, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Mike Smith unleashes bon mots in the potting shed. (M. Bradley)

London — Want to feel disoriented? Take a gander at the Atlanta Falcons, Hall County’s team, after a morning walk-through at their posh hotel in Watford. Same guys, different continent. (Although technically this is an island. But you get the drift.)

The Falcons’ hotel, The Grove, is so posh that it’s the resting place before matches for the English national soccer team. (David Beckham slept here!) Also for visiting clubs before UEFA Champions League games in London. (Lionel Messi, too!) It’s about a 40-minute ride from London itself, as some of the visiting Americans discovered Tuesday.

Julio Jones said he and some [More]

London calling: I’m here for the Other Football

  • 12:58 pm Tuesday, October 21st, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Funnily enough, there's no mention of the Giants and the Royals. (M. Bradley)

London — Flew overnight into Heathrow. Took the train to Paddington Station. Took a cab to the hotel, not wanting to drag three bags through these narrow streets. Lucked into a cab driver who liked football (their kind) and gave me a detailed report on Manchester United’s 2-2 draw with West Bromwich Albion. Only then did I feel I was in England.

There’d been hints. We took the lift to the Heathrow Express, not the elevator. We were advised on exiting at Paddington to “mind the gap,” meaning don’t fall through the space between the train and the platform. My driver [More]

It’s going so badly the Falcons have fled the country

  • 8:23 am Monday, October 20th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Exiting Baltimore, bound for Blighty. (Gail Burton/AP photo)

After a month like this, you’d think about fleeing the country, too. The Atlanta Falcons have lost four consecutive games by the aggregate score of 127-68. (Not-so-fun fact: The Falcons beat Tampa Bay 56-14 in September and have still been outscored by opponents by 28 points on the season.) They’re 2-5. Not one of their losses has been by single digits.

We started off thinking (for good reason) that their defense was lousy. Now their offense is, too. They’ve scored 40 points and four touchdowns in three games. The lowest three-game output for the 2013 Falcons — who finished 4-12, you’ll [More]

UGA’s Nick Chubb: Second-best back in the nation?

  • 9:05 pm Saturday, October 18th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Nick Chubb runs to daylight, of which there was much. (

Little Rock, Ark. – These short takes off Georgia-Arkansas are presented as a companion to the game column, which can be found here. Georgia won 45-32.

1. Nick Chubb is almost as great as the great Todd Gurley, and that’s saying something. The freshman from Cedartown followed his 143-yards-on-38-carries showing against Missouri with an even more spectacular display. He rushed 20 times for 202 yards and two touchdowns. (Gurley’s biggest day, FYI, was 208 yards against Tennessee last month.) “He’s built for it,” coach Mark Richt said of the workload, saying also that Cedartown High “played tough and coached tough.” [More]

Live from Little Rock: Jen Bielema says ‘hello’

  • 3:02 pm Saturday, October 18th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
War Memorial Stadium: Kind of old, kind of small. (M. Bradley)

Little Rock, Ark. – Bret Bielema coaches Arkansas. Jen Bielema is his wife. Apparently she’s kind of famous over here. (This isn’t without Arkansas precedent: The airport is named after Bill and Hillary Clinton.) She and I rode the same elevator at War Memorial Stadium — she and her crew were headed to the suites; I was bound for the seat I currently occupy in the bare-bones press box — and she, being neighborly, said, “Hello.”

True confession: I didn’t know who she was. After she exited, I asked an Arkansas media type as to her identity. “That’s the coach’s wife,” [More]

Another game minus Gurley. Another win for UGA?

  • 11:59 am Friday, October 17th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
He won't be waving hello from Little Rock. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)

News, as relayed by esteemed colleague Chip Towers, that Todd Gurley didn’t board Georgia’s buses leaving Athens and thus won’t make the trip to Little Rock will come as a disappointment to Bulldogs fans. (Unrelated thought: Does Mark Richt still speak to his men of “The Energy Bus,” a business concept that became the theme of the 2011 bounceback season?) But it shouldn’t. I don’t think anybody who works in Butts-Mehre seriously believed Gurley would return this week.

This ball, as it were, is apparently still in Georgia’s court. For Gurley’s status to be clarified, the athletic department must first [More]

Numbers crunched: These Falcons don’t add up

  • 6:57 am Friday, October 17th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
"We need to go for it. Or do we?" (Seth Wenig/AP photo)

If the Atlanta Falcons’ record — they’re 2-4, the four losses having come by 10-plus points — didn’t tell you that there’s trouble afoot in Flowery Branch, these numbers will. Pro Football Focus grades the Falcons’ offensive line as the league’s 28th-best, which is actually an upgrade over last season, when it ranked 30th. Advanced Football Analytics assesses the Falcons’ defensive efficiency as the 32nd-best — there are 32 NFL teams — and the team as the league’s fifth-worst despite the presence of the 10th-most efficient offense.

FiveThirtyEight’s rankings have the Falcons as the seventh-worst team, and Nate Silver’s [More]

If John Hart won’t be the Braves’ GM, who will?

  • 8:31 am Wednesday, October 15th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
Apparently his Hart wasn't in it. (David Tulis/AP photo)

Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports reports that John Hart has declined the Atlanta Braves’ offer to remain their permanent-if-only-for-a-while general manager. (Hart is already the interim GM.) If this is indeed true — team president John Schuerholz told esteemed colleague David O’Brien the report is “not accurate” — it would be a mild surprise but no shock. Hart is 66, and it has been unclear whether he wants to return to baseball on a full-time basis.

Assuming Passan’s report is accurate, we need to ask how it affects the Braves’ search. Not much, I’d suggest. Passan identifies the two leading [More]

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