Playboy may be known more for naked bodies than naked bootlegs, but its annual football projections are about as accurate as you'll find. That's because Gil Brandt, the widely respected former personnel director of the Dallas Cowboys, helps Gary Cole compile the magazine's A-A squad and team rankings each year. The Village Voice followed up on the preseason top-25 projections of the major publications a few years ago and found that Playboy did better than anyone, including Sports Illustrated, Sporting News, The New York Times and USA Today.
Brandt attended the recent Playboy All-America weekend, then wrote about the experience in an article posted on cbs.sportsline.com. The article, entitled "Playboy gathering gives glimpse into 2007 draft," mentions some light-hearted awards given to the assembled All-Americans. Sears won the "Life Is A Bowl Of Cherries" award. Here's what Brandt had to say about the burly Vol:
"He was always smiling and happy, and enjoying being around others. You would have thought he was running for public office."
Playboy named four Southeastern Conference players to its 24-man A-A team, and one of these grew up in Tennessee. That would be Patrick Willis, who signed with Ole Miss out of Bruceton Central High School after the Vols showed minimal interest in him.
Playboy's preseason team rankings for 2006 have not yet been released. Based on the Village Voice survey, they may deserve a little more respect than they've been accorded in the past.