Hunter S. Thompson Sends a Letter to the Indianapolis Colts, Urging Them to Pick Ryan Leaf Over That “Peyton Manning Kid” (1998)

The 1998 NFL draft was a mem­o­rable one. A debate raged around whether the Indi­anapo­lis Colts should use their first round pick to select Ryan Leaf or Pey­ton Man­ning. Every­one had an opin­ion about these two quar­ter­backs, includ­ing Hunter S. Thomp­son. The author of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and Hel­l’s Angels sent a let­ter to Colts own­er Jim Irsay, urg­ing him to select the high­ly-tout­ed Leaf.

Dear James,

In response to yr addled request for a quick $30M loan to secure the ser­vices of the Man­ning kid — I have to say No, (sic) at this time

But the Leaf boy is anoth­er mat­ter. He looks strong & Man­ning doesn’t — or at least not strong enough to han­dle that “Wel­come to the NFL” busi­ness for two years with­out a world-class offen­sive line.

How are you fixed at left OT for the next few years, James? Think about it. You don’t want a chi­na (sic) doll back there when that freak [War­ren] Sapp comes crash­ing in.

Okay. Let me know if you need some mon­ey for Leaf. I expect to be very rich when this [John­ny] depp (sic) movie comes out.

Yr. faith­ful con­sul­tant,


Twen­ty years lat­er, we know how things played out. The Colts ulti­mate­ly picked Man­ning, who became one of the most pro­duc­tive and cel­e­brat­ed quar­ter­backs ever. As for Leaf, he played four sea­sons and exit­ed the sport, con­sid­ered by some the No. 1 “draft bust” in NFL his­to­ry. But he’s cer­tain­ly a good sport. Leaf post­ed Thomp­son’s let­ter (above) on his Twit­ter stream last month

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Relat­ed Con­tent:

Hunter S. Thompson’s Deca­dent Dai­ly Break­fast: The “Psy­chic Anchor” of His Fre­net­ic Cre­ative Life

How Hunter S. Thomp­son Gave Birth to Gonzo Jour­nal­ism: Short Film Revis­its Thompson’s Sem­i­nal 1970 Piece on the Ken­tucky Der­by

Hear the 10 Best Albums of the 1960s as Select­ed by Hunter S. Thomp­son

Read 11 Free Arti­cles by Hunter S. Thomp­son That Span His Gonzo Jour­nal­ist Career (1965–2005)

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