My oldest and dearest friend, Otto, a retired award-winning film producer (I had to get that in; he still has delusions of more grandeur), called me to say that he is having his first grandchild the end of May. He was delirious and was thinking of setting up all kinds of educational and trust funds, not to mention the purchase of various stocks and bonds, and the requisite panda. I told him to cool it. He was going about this wrong.

Football pools are the answer, I said.

I could hear his eyes blink.

Then I recounted the ultimate financial plan. It was six years ago when my first grandchild, Daniel, was born, just on the cusp of another NFL season. He was only six weeks old when the season started and I figured, why not, sign him up. So he became Dan the Man to pick winning teams. It was a pool that had no odds attached or under/over or plus/against. It was a simple winner-take-all approach. And, here's the modus operandi.

I would hoist Dan onto my left arm with his head bobbing up and down on my left shoulder. (I'm right-handed, you see.) We would walk the length of room and back while my son sat at a desk with the daily paper in front of him turned to the sports section.

"Okay, Poppy. Eagles at Bears. Eagles favored by three points."

I would whisper in Dan's ear. "Eagles at Bears. Eagles favored by three points." I would then utter the word "Eagles" and wait for a response. Then "Bears" and wait. I was listening for a grunt, a burp, a passing of gas...anything that might tell me his choice. I was always rewarded with a pick.

Now, we went through 16 weeks of this, every Thursday evening.

Oh, you know the outcome already, don't you? You're right. Dan burped, grunted, and passed gas to victory after victory. He took all the marbles at the end of 16 weeks. We didn't do playoffs and the Super Bowl then. Let's not push it.

So, to my friend Otto. Your grandson is being born May. He'll be only a few months old when the NFL starts its 2002 season. You know what you have to do. Go ahead and do it. It's a win-win situation.

Hey, Super Bowl is Sunday. Anybody got an infant I can talk to?

-Stuart Kahan

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