These is the invite for the 2000 Football Pool (as it appeared in the first email)...

Are you ready for some football?

On Monday night, two classic American football teams went head-to-head in a monumental battle of strength, endurance, and heart. These two teams were the Miami Dolphins and the Green Bay Packers, two teams steeped in tradition and class. And when you think of these two teams, a classic battle of quarterbacks comes to mind. And this Monday night did not disappoint. It was a monstrous clash of mythical proportions: Matt Hasselbeck vs. Damon Huard.

OK, it's the pre-season. But Monday Night Football is sacred ground. Good old-fashioned football jargon was being bandied around the announcers' booth as if it were the heart of the playoffs. Any die-hard fan glued to the screen Monday night was witness to these tried and true observations about the violent ballet that is football:

"They've been in the red zone more times than Vladimir Lenin."
"Hey guys, can we get some more humidity down here, because I want to be a piece of algae?"
"Peyton Manning has set the play-fake bar up to Valerie Brumell-like heights."

OK, Dennis Miller is in the booth. And he's going to be there all season long so get used to it. And don't expect your favorite player to escape the scalpel of wit that is Dennis Miller:

"Madison -- they're going to end up naming an avenue after this guy."
"Ironically, the guy named Holliday never takes a day off."
"Kino Hills? Sounds like where those little blue-haired ladies in Vegas wanna be buried."

Dennis Miller and Valerie Brumell aside, what does all this mean to you? Well, with the end of the pre-season comes the beginning of...

The season.

You may have pieced that together. But with the beginning of the season comes the beginning of Suicide Football Pool 2000. We're moving into our third year and we couldn't be more proud of the growth we've achieved. The stockholders are very confident that the return this year is going to be phenomenal.

Here are the rules; they are very simple:

Every weekend you pick one team that is going to win its football game. One team. That's it. If you can do that for more weeks than anyone else, you win ALL THE MONEY. That's it. You need no knowledge of drafting or injury reports or complicated betting procedures. You point your finger at a team that you think will win and if you are right, you are one week closer to winning the jackpot.

This is the point in the email when you assume there must be some sort of trick to the process. But one man's trick is another man's additional rules:

You can't pick a team more than once during the regular season. If you pick Jacksonville or St. Louis in week 2, you cannot pick them again. So it may behoove you to look ahead a few weeks. It may behoove you to look ahead the entire season. But no one will actually be behooving you. Many people pick as they go. When the typical National Football League season begins to unfold, the best laid plans of mice and men sometimes meet the backhand of a Venus Williams baseline return. (Where's Dennis Miller when you need him?)

But wait. What if you pick a losing team? From what I have said so far, it would be logical to assume that picking a losing team would eliminate you from the contest. But it does not. If you pick a losing team, you get one strike against you. But you ARE NOT OUT. If you have heard of this other sport called "baseball," you may have already surmised that you get, in fact, THREE STRIKES before you are eliminated. Or as they say on the diamond, before you are "out." Or as they say in Palau Tiga, before you are "voted off the island."

There is no way you can be eliminated by Week 2. It is, as my statistics teacher tried to drill into my head, mathematically impossible. Your investment will last you AT LEAST to Week 3, most likely even longer. Most people ran aground in weeks 8-10 last year. That's a lot of football action.

And how much will this football action cost you? Given the average success of last year's participants, it will be around $1 per week. But keep in mind: all of that money is due up front. The one-time single entry fee for Suicide Football Pool 2000 is ten dollars ($10). The season is, quite literally, a hoot. Maybe even a hoot and a half. And you'll want to be there every step of the way.

So, please join us in taking part in America's pastime: betting. America wants you in this pool. Your God wants you in this pool. And if nothing else, your bank account wants you in this pool. Given similar numbers to last year, the aforementioned jackpot should top off around $1500. Just absorb that figure for a moment. Don't let me spoil it. $1500.

And that's the pitch. Join in. You will find much enjoyment. I GUARANTEE* IT!
*not a legal or financial guarantee in any sense of the word

The deadline for sending in money is a postmark on or before Saturday, September 2. Your first pick should be in by the same day over email. The deadline for the first week's pick is dawn of that day: Saturday, September 2. It's a big day.

Send your entry fee to this address in check form made out to: John Ducey, PO Box 1411, Studio City, CA 91614-0411. Do not delay. Order now.

I leave you with Dennis Miller's observations about traveling from city to city to cover these Monday Night games: "You know, I've only had the guy who refills the mini-bar break in on me naked around 13 or 14 times these past three weeks. Those guys come through the door like DEA agents breaking up a crystal meth lab. Can I get more than one knock?"

Luckily ABC compensates our friend Mr. Miller for his troubles. And you can be compensated too. Last year's champions Cook, Mollen, and Sullivan were compensated plenty. They invite you to bring it on. They could use a little fight this year.

Go Browns!

Good luck,

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