Mark Bradley blog 

Mark Bradley is a sports columnist and blogger for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The No. 2 choice to win the CFB playoff? Georgia

  • 10:35 am Tuesday, October 28th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
A sign o' the times. (Curtis Compton/AJC photo)

Georgia won’t be in the first four when the initial College Football Playoff standings are announced today, which isn’t to say Georgia won’t be the final four come Dec. 7. For a team still officially without its best player, the Bulldogs are in a remarkably strong position, which is reflected by those cold-eye realists in Las Vegas.

According to publicist Jimmy Shapiro, Bovada lists Georgia as the second-favorite not just to make the playoff but to win the thing. Alabama is No. 1. (Wait a second. Wasn’t it just the other day we all thought Alabama wasn’t any good anymore?) Tied [More]

The Falcons’ abject failure was a failure of coaching

  • 3:36 pm Sunday, October 26th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
The winning kick sails home, and Julio Jones is not amused. (Matt Dunham/AP photo)

London – These short takes are presented as a companion to the Falcons-Lions game column, which can be found here. The Lions somehow won 22-21.

1. A well-coached team doesn’t lose this game. I’m on the record (many times) as believing that Mike Smith is the best coach the Falcons have ever had, but the whiffs in clock management — at the end of both halves — and simple execution cannot be seen as anything other than a indictment of coaching. A 59-yard touchdown on third-and-25 on a play that bore a striking resemblance to the 74-yard pass caught by [More]

From Wembley: Falcons, Lions and Freddie Mercury

  • 7:34 am Sunday, October 26th, 2014 by Mark Bradley
The rebuilt Wembley is beautiful, I must say. (M. Bradley)

London – The massive stadium isn’t the same as it was, having been renovated from 2002 through 2007, but it still carries the magic name. To walk into Wembley is to feel the weight of history, and not just sporting history.

As much as I admire the English brand of football, the first name that springs to mind when I think of Wembley isn’t Geoff Hurst (who scored a hat trick, sort of, in England’s 4-2 victory over West Germany in the 1966 World Cup final), or Paul Gascoigne (the most gifted English footballer of his generation who scored a wonder [More]

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)


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]