Hunter S. Thompson Really Wanted Colts Owner to Draft Ryan Leaf

There’s bizarre and then there’s the letter the late Hunter S. Thompson wrote to Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay prior to the 1998 NFL Draft. Thompson, the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and pioneer of the gonzo journalism movement, had a way with words, but his opinion about who Irsay should select with the number one pick in the draft missed the mark — by a lot.

The 20-year-old letter was shared by Ryan Leaf, the former NFL quarterback that Thompson adamantly believed Irsay should’ve selected over Peyton Manning. Leaf, in a post on Twitter, said he received the letter last week.

“In response to yr. addled request for a quick $30M loan to secure the services of the Manning kid — I have to say No, at this time,” Thompson wrote. First of all, Thompson never had $30 million (his net worth was estimated at $5 million), and Jim Irsay, a man worth more than $2 billion, probably wouldn’t have any need for a loan. Though it sounds as if Thompson was expecting a big payday for the adaptation of Fear and Loathing starring Johnny Depp, which released in theaters right around the 1998 NFL Draft.

Thompson stumped for Leaf throughout the letter, describing Leaf as “strong” in comparison to Manning. Given the career trajectories of Manning and Leaf, Jim Irsay is probably thanking his lucky stars that he didn’t listen to Thompson.


Peyton Manning Has a Statue Outside of Lucas Oil Stadium & Ryan Leaf Threw a Career Total of 14 Touchdowns

GettyRyan Leaf playing against the Steelers in 2000.

Peyton Manning, the number one pick in the 1998 NFL Draft, led the Colts to the playoffs 11 times in 13 seasons, posting a 141-67 record. He appeared in two Super Bowls for the Colts and notched one victory in those appearances. He played his final four seasons with the Denver Broncos, leading the Broncos to a Super Bowl victory in his farewell season. He’s widely considered to be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time.

Leaf on the other hand, his career fizzled out quickly. Although he was a Heisman Trophy finalist in his junior season at Washington State, he started out poorly in the NFL after being drafted by the San Diego Chargers. A combination of not following team rules and general lack of work ethic led to Leaf being replaced as the Chargers’ start midway through his rookie season. Leaf was out of the league after three seasons of work. He finished his career with 3,666 passing yards, 14 touchdowns, and 36 interceptions. He is commonly regarded as one of the biggest busts in NFL history.

Following his NFL playing career, Leaf ran into a string of legal trouble from 2009-2014, including drug charges, burglary, and theft.

In recent years, Leaf has turned his life around. He currently works as the Program Ambassador for Transcend Recovery Community helping recovering addicts become situated in sober homes.


This Wasn’t the First Time Thompson Sent Irsay a Letter Either

GettyHunter S. Thompson at the CineVegas Film Festival in 2003. Thompson died in 2005.

In 2011, a letter from Thompson to Irsay surfaced that began with “The Colts suck…” and only got worse from there.

“The Colts act like a gaggle of third-world transients in a holding pen with just enough whiskey and weirdness and talent to be competitive – but soon they will start getting busted – small things at first, but soon bigger & faster & uglier,” Thompson wrote.

Despite Thompson’s rudeness towards the Colts owner, he apparently convinced Irsay to purchase the original scroll of Jack Kerouac’s masterpiece On the Road in 2001 for a cool $2.2 million, according to ESPN.

Needless to say, if Irsay would’ve followed Thompson’s advice, the Colts would’ve likely continued to “suck,” as Thompson so eloquently put it.

Source: Heavy Sports