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Posted: 2007-09-01

Enough already. It is time. Let us begin this arduous journey once again. Year 14 is upon us and, as Al Gore knows, time is running out for some of the animals.

Like Barry Bonds, we just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

Hopefully, this time, you will have what it takes to go the distance (or at least last one week longer than some lesser skilled animal, with whom you have perhaps made a small side wager) to that purity of the promised land known as Football Genius. But consider yourself warned, animals: this journey is not meant for the faint of heart.

When last we left the animals, some 195 million miles ago as the earth spins, the ZOOKEEPER was planning to spend his off-season partying with Paris Hilton and following the Lindsay Lohan concert tour. When those plans fell apart, and Donaghy didn't come through with the Knicks tickets he promised, the ZOOKEEPER decided on an expedition to the heart of the Amazon Rain Forrest (where he had been told of a legendary plant, the fruit of which is rumored to be capable of making synthetic Muscatel). There, lying on the jungle floor staring at the heavens, having consumed a fair share of organic Muscatel to balance the evening hours, the ZOOKEEPER was busy contemplating the celestial geometry and relative significance of Perseids' brilliant meteor shower, when the fiery tears across the sky reminded him of the 5,000 plus animals who had sworn last year to avenge some impossible defeat, due, no doubt, to some on-the-take Zebra's cheating miscalculations, some errant QB's toss, or some lazy running back's lack of commitment to true football genius and excellence. Like a shot of Tour de France quality blood-doped adrenalin, The ZOOKEEPER was reminded that it was time to return to the Van Down by the River to help fulfill yet another appointed date with destiny. This year it could be your turn.

So here it is, impatiently waiting ones. You can stop your whining, sniffling, squeaking, nagging, tugging, pleading, pesky little emails, now. THE ZOOKEEPER is back. He's tanned, he's rested, he's almost sober, and he's ready to take on yet another 17 weeks of dealing with soon to be futile cage filled yelping and yapping efforts, grandiose posturing to prove your football prowess, genius and superiority, and brazen attempts to achieve Football Immortality Status. The ZOOKEEPER and his trusted SPONSORS will once again be bringing you the WORLD'S GREATEST FOOTBALL POOL. And why not? "The Bronx is Burning" will soon be over, and we're all sick and tired of looking at John Turturro in those ridiculous Billy Martin ears.

Yes, this often imitated but never duplicated marvel of the modern world, the LAST MAN STANDING CLUB FOOTBALL POOL, is here once again to thrill your otherwise mundane existence with weekly witticisms, weird world updates, whacky observations, and wonderful reminders of just how fragile that thin line between winning and losing, in and out, caged and uncaged can be.

SPONSORS: PAY ATTENTION. You know the drill by now. Get your animals lined up in their cages in proper alphabetical order and keep this order throughout the season. A sample excel spread sheet is attached for your review, (as historically your memories have tended to be less than special). We can provide you with your animal cage files (including identifying photos) from previous seasons as needed. Just ask. Collect all animal fees prior to week one, but DO NOT send it to the ZOOKEEPER until after week one has begun (there are always stragglers). Once your animals are finalized, mail a check made out to Last Man Standing Club to . Send your picks in by email on Wednesday of each week (beginning Wednesday, September 6). Picks are always due Wednesdays. DID YOU HEAR THAT? PICKS ARE ALWAYS DUE WEDNESDAYS. If you have animals who are reluctant to get into their cages by the weekly deadline that you set for them in order for you to make your deadline, make their picks for them. Trust me. It's the only way to handle these wild beasts.

ANIMALS: PAY EVEN MORE ATTENTION (and I know that is difficult for some of you). You should know the drill by now. MAKE YOUR PICKS ON TIME. Get into your cages at whatever time your SPONSOR tells you to get into your cages, and no back sass'n the SPONSORS. GET YOUR PICKS IN ON TIME. Get your SPONSOR the entry fees when requested, BEFORE week one begins. Rules are attached for those of you who can read. Have someone read them to you if you can't read. The Rules do matter here. This is League Play.

That's all there is to it. The end of summer is upon us. As you await your final Labor Day picnic feast like a pack of hungry Kobayachis, you know what is in store for you and you know what you need to do. Get your HOT PICKS number into the speed dial, get yourself renewed with the NFL package, and pick up a copy of the Green Sheet. Call Dumbledore if you need to, just remember to choose wisely in week one.

The ZOOKEEPER is back in his Van. Summer vacation is over. The mail has been picked up from the post office, and the dog has been picked up from the kennel (thank God the ZOOKEEPER didn't take up Ron Mexico on that offer to watch the dog). Georgia Tech has rooms reserved in South Bend, and the hope that always springs eternal resides in everyone's breast. It is time for some football.


Ps. If you are receiving this message in error, please let me know and I will remove your name from the distribution list with my apologies. If this message is not being received in error. you still have my apologies, but you also have my best wishes for a great season. Just win, baby, win.