Five, four, three, two, one and Matt Damon is officially a loser.
More than 200 other entrants in the Super Bowl/Bachelorette Contest, however, beat the Thursday noon deadline seeking a free $400 Super Bowl ticket and a grueling date with the accountant daughter and her two accounting friends to watch the Raiders and Buccaneers on Sunday in San Diego.
Each entrant had to complete a tricky five-question quiz, and not everyone was successful. Chris Clark, for example, had trouble stating emphatically whether he'd be wearing an eye patch and packing handcuffs to the game.
"If the conversation with three accountants follows form, then I will attempt to kill myself," Clark wrote in his passionate appeal to win the ticket. "If I am unsuccessful, I might just end up blinding myself, and thus will leave wearing an eye patch. Also if there is free alcohol, I might leave in handcuffs."
A number of contestants, such as Richard Birecki, struggled with the question: "Who do you want to win the Super Bowl?"
"There is no doubt," wrote Birecki, "I'll be rooting for the 49ers."
"What should Tiger Woods have done in regards to the Masters controversy?" wrote Brandon Brooks. "What controversy? He went to Stanford. He shouldn't need a Masters to play golf."
The Woods question seemed to stump a number of test-takers, although Jason Brown seemed to give it a lot of thought: "Obviously he should have gotten a sex change and insisted on wearing the green jacket with a clingy skirt and pumps."
Brown made the daughter's final top 10, which might explain why she needs a date for the Super Bowl.
ED SULLIVAN was eliminated not because he's dead, but because he guessed correctly when he wrote: "I figure I'm disqualified because I am an alumnus of USC with three degrees." It's a shame too, because I hate the idea of Ed Sullivan missing a really big show.
Ian McNair aced the exam, but then added this: "I hate to be a pain, but I have a long way to travel and could do with a dollar or two toward flights and all. If you and your daughter could help a little, I'll make the trip from Sheffield, England." (Ian will be watching the Super Bowl on his telly.)
Kyle C. had the most promising e-mail, writing, "I'm single, unattached and I've included a picture if it helps. I'm the one on the right." Unfortunately the guy on the left never submitted his official entry.
SOME ENTRANTS tried to cozy up to the judge: "I promise not to wear my USC hat," wrote Joe Foerster.
"One of my goals in life is to have a son that I can name T.J.," wrote Howard P., while also noting in his e-mail, "I am every accountant's dream." Unfortunately that would make him a calculator.
SOME NEVER had a chance, such as K.C., who began his e-mail, "I am also a sports writer..." Or Richard Solomon, who began, "I am a longtime Raider fan." Or Tommy U, who wrote, "Who cares who wins the game. I'm going for the free beer. You're paying for the beer, right?" Tommy U will never know.
"I would love to accompany your daughter to the Super Bowl," wrote S. Fodor. "I have been a long-suffering Chargers fan.... I think your daughter and I would get along great, but I won't be able to marry her. I've been happily married for years. I am a woman." Obviously there was no way I could allow Fodor to go to the game with my daughter given my feelings about Charger fans.
Andrew Teed dropped off the board when he wrote that one of his goals in life is to be like Times sports editor Bill Dwyre and "have a job that pays an exorbitant amount of money that I don't deserve while providing me all the time in the world to play golf." (I couldn't ask the daughter to sit next to someone like that for four hours.)
Sabastian D. took himself out of the running when he said his goal is to "meet a nice, affectionate gal with a great sense of humor whose renowned dad won't lampoon every subsequent date in his column. Someone with cool parents, you know, like Mr. & Mrs. Plaschke."
FOR THE record there was a three-way tie for first contestant to be eliminated between Andy McH., Alan O., and Charles J.
Alan listed his top three goals in life in the following order: "Sleep with Alyssa Milano, sleep with Ashley Judd and sleep with Rebecca Romijn." I guess he never got that speech about "setting your goals too high."
Charles, meanwhile, wrote, "you asked about sex. I am male, and haven't had any lately." Under the same category, Andy noted: "Last Sunday."
I GUESS we'll never know how MICHAEL H. might have fared. "I'd like to enter the contest," he wrote, "but I don't remember the questions you posed, so I'll just make up my own answers. Pete Rose should not be in the Hall of Fame or anywhere else on this planet."
Kevin S. wrote, "My goals include becsuccessfulcessfull and recognized artist, instructing art at a college level and attendSuper Bowluperbowl this year with daughter."
Unfortunately, somegoals arejustoutareach for somepeople.
THE TWO finalists are Mark T. and Kelly M.
The pair have been invited to watch a taping of "Around the Horn" today, and the winner will be the one who is able to match wits with the show's host, Max Kellerman.
If both contestants fail to do that, the daughter is in real trouble and I would urge her to sell her own ticket and watch the game on TV.