By Bill Simmons
Page 2

Thanks to everyone who sent along an entry for the Intern Contest -- even the people who sent in sarcastic entries or used the form to take some shots at me (I enjoyed every last dig). In just four days, we received something like 4,500 entries before shutting it down, and I think we would have had more if A) my mailboxes didn't fill up, and B) we didn't stick the "Only applicants between 21 to 25" rule in there (which was included only to keep the number of entries down). The truth is, we don't give a crap how old the intern is, and if you really wanted the job, you should have filled out an entry regardless of how old you were. Some people did that; some of them even made their way into the Final 25 for this contest. But we needed some way to weed the group down so I wasn't reading entries until July.

So what were we looking for? People who were clever. People who were smart enough to take advantage of as many of those 400 words as possible. People who seemed hungry. People who made me laugh. People who grabbed me in the first paragraph -- like the guy who quoted Cal Jammer. People willing to take a different approach with their entry -- like a "Top Ten Reasons You Should Pick Me," or "Here's everything you need to know about me in 400 words," or even an essay that had nothing to do with anything. A few people tried the "Broadcasters doing the fake play-by-play about the contest or the entrant" routine, which is the idea I probably would have done if I was entering this thing ten years ago, but nobody nailed the cadence of Maguire, Costas, Theismann, Berman or whomever else they used.

Honestly? I'm not sure how I ended up with these 25 people. I narrowed it down to 100, then worked backwards under the "All right, I have to keep this person" premise ... initially I was hoping for 16 finalists, but there was no way to keep less than 20. At that point, I said "Screw it" and went for an even 25 -- which we'll be narrowing down to 16 next week. Basically, I wanted to see another submission from everyone before I whittled the list down to the Final 16.

One more thing: I wanted to explain why I was having this contest, because it goes beyond just finding another intern to replace Jamie. Back in the the mid-90's, I was absolutely stuck in life -- I wanted a sports column and there was no possible way to get one (remember, the Internet didn't really exist yet) without doing grunt work in a newspaper for 10-12 years and waiting for some of the older writers either to retire, get bought out or get hit by a bus. Do you realize that there hasn't been a white male hired as a sports columnist in Boston in 12 years? It's true. If professional sports worked like newspapers, LeBron James would be sitting on the bench in Cleveland right now while Mark Price, Craig Ehlo, Austin Carr and Brad Daugherty took his minutes. But that's a whole other story.Some day, I may even tell it.

Here's the point: I know what it's like to be out of college -- with no freaking idea where your life is headed, with nobody giving you a chance, with your parents leaning on you to get a real job -- only you can't shake the feeling that you just need one lucky break. In my case, nobody ever gave me a break, so I ended up going on the Internet and forging my own path. I wouldn't recommend this, by the way -- I almost gave up about 600 different times, and I didn't even make $30,000 in a single year until I was 30. Not good times. Then again, it got me where I needed to be. And I'm hoping that this contest helps one person get where they need to be some day. That's why we're having it.

Also, it's going to be immensely entertaining. Just wait.

Without further ado, here are the first 12 finalists for the Sports Guy Intern Contest. The other 13 will be announced on Thursday.

THE FINALISTS -- Group 1: 1-4 | 5-8 | 9-12

THE FINALISTS -- Group 2: 13-17 | 18-21 | 22-25

Bill Simmons is a columnist for Page 2 and ESPN The Magazine. His Sports Guy's World site is updated every day Monday through Friday.