Howard Farber never really had a chance. He was groomed to be a full-fledged football fan.
Farber, of Peabody, grew up loving football before the Patriots even existed.
"When I was growing up, on Sunday afternoons, my father (Jim) would take me and my brother (Sydney) into the living room and we would watch the New York Giants," said Farber. "The Giants were 'our' team until, of course, the Patriots got their franchise. It was easy for me to make the switch at such a young age. I've been a fan every since."
Well, it appears Farber has continued the tradition. On Sundays, he invites his two sons, Gregory and David, to watch the game with them. But they are not alone, at least Greg brings his wife, Rina, and their twin 4 1/2-year-old daughters, Maya and Lily.
"We really have a good time on Sundays, especially when the Patriots play," said Farber. "It's funny. The twins sit down and love watching it with us. I'll explain things to them. They really seem to enjoy it, especially the Patriots. We have Patriots shirts and really have a good time. Not a week goes by that this does not take place."
Farber won the contest last year. He has been close a few times in 2016 ... but no cigar.
"My youngest son (David) and I have a competition each week, much like 'Beat Burt' contest where we pick all the games, straight up," said Farber. "This makes watching some of the other games and scores of the other games more interesting."
Farber's passion has crossed into Fantasy Football, which he started playing "several years ago."
"It has definitely made the NFL more interesting to me as I pay attention to a lot of the other teams, too," he said. "I also watch Monday and Thursday Night Football. Thursday night football just does not seem to be as good as the other two days. I think lack of preparation time is the main factor."
Farber played " playground” football growing up, as his father would not allow him to play organized tackle football as he thought it was too dangerous.
"I grew up across the street from a school yard and a block away from a park and most days in the fall you would be able to find me playing ball in one of those locations," he said.
As for his personal preference for picking games each week, Farber usually goes with the favorites ... or least the big favorites.
"On the closer games I take into consideration whether a team is at home, if a team from the west coast is travelling east, or vice-versa," said Farber. "Or if certain key players are playing hurt. Basically, it’s a gut feel."
Farber said his and the family's passion for the NFL probably has its roots in the Patriots successes.
"I wouldn’t be a true Patriots fan if I didn’t think they would win the Super Bowl," he said. "I think Belichick is just a remarkable coach. Not only does he seem to have two gameplans for each half of the game, but I also believe he has a similar plan for both halves of the season. It seems the Pats get stronger in November and December."
Good week for Burt
The colder it gets, the hotter I get. OK, I stole that line from Chad "Ochocinco" Johnson, but you get the point.
After a horrible beginning to the season, things are starting to become a little clearer, at least in my eyes.
In Week 9, I got nine out of the 12 games correct, which is pretty good. Only 14 entries out of 186 were able to get 10 or more. In fact, "only" two entries had 11 correct selections, which is pretty darn good.
Each week a maximum of 10 T-shirts are awarded. The first tiebreaker in Week 9 was the Denver Broncos' point total (Pats were on a bye). The Broncos scored 20 points. By the way, about 80 percent of the entries were in the 20 to 30 area, which is impressive.
This week, all of the winners were within three points of the Broncos' 20, with two winning entries at four points away and having 11 correct selections.
It was a good week for everybody.
Week 9 winners
Bob Ulfo of Lynn
Jim Donovaro of Beverly
Bob Adams of West Newbury
David Frederick of Danvers
Dan.Ryan of Peabody
Peggy Pucillo of Peabody
Tony Vinciguerra of Byfield
Tom Sawyer of Peabody
Carmon Herrick of Beverly
Tom Lattof of Gloucester