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The name of the game is simple: Make money


TAKING A PAGE from Art Modell's checkbook, I have decided to name my two children after the highest corporate bidder. OK, they already have names. But so did Ravens stadium, at least sort of. That didn't stop Modell from renaming it PSINet Stadium for a cool $105.5 million.

Anyway, my two children do not respond to the names they have, so I plan to make some fast cash on new names to which they could also fail to respond.

Everybody is doing it. Everyone with a stadium, that is. Team owners are getting millions. Doing the same oughta be worth a coupla grand to me.

After all, I write about my children, and my misadventures raising them, in the pages of a newspaper with substantial circulation. Pay me enough and I will name my kids after your company.

High-tech companies seem to be the big spenders in this game. But it doesn't matter to me whether you manufacture school supplies or hard liquor. If you've got the money, you've got yourself a precocious adolescent -- named, for example "Jim Beam" -- whose zany antics are inflated and retold here twice weekly.

It is true that my children occasionally misbehave -- like the time my daughter cut Sunday school with a pack of gal pals and talked a busboy into buying them breakfast at a nearby saloon. You might not want your company to be cast in such a light. But consider it advertising along the lines of "I don't care what you say about me, just mention my name."

Pizza delivery services are a natural fit. Parents who turn to my column for a regular dose of comfort ("Geez. Somebody is worse at this than I am") would be left with a subliminal message to dial out for dinner.

A deal like this could be scotched by one of my client-kids, who might fear a new name -- say, "Domino" or "Papa John" -- would be reduced to an unacceptable nickname, such as "pizza-face."

But for now, this merchandising plan has the unqualified endorsement of my daughter, who is hoping the Backstreet Boys will send one of their hotties to the house with an offer. I should not tip my negotiating position, but she would change her name to "Mrs. Nick Carter" for a song, excuse my pun.

(Note: To avoid nasty family squabbles over the proceeds of these lucrative agreements, it might be necessary to lie to your children. While they are still too young to have formed any unpleasant conclusions about you, tell them: "Jiffy Lube is a family name, dear.")

Like Modell and his linking of an Internet company with a professional football team, I don't require that my sponsorship deal make any sense at all. Therefore, I will be entertaining offers from Goodyear, even though neither of my teen-agers could be said to be having one.

I predict this idea will sweep through hospital nurseries all over America.

Looking for a way to reduce the high cost of raising children? Name them after an athletic shoe company. That ought to be worth at least a lifetime supply of $100 sneakers. (Use your head here. Don't sign with a diaper company, unless it is just a short-term deal.)

If your child, like mine, refuses to remove his baseball cap even at the dinner table, you might as well cash in on it.

To demonstrate how determined I am to make a deal, I am also willing to sell the name of this column and the picture that runs with it.

Art Modell? Are you listening? Have your people call my people.

Pub Date: 02/07/99

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