On Thursday, the Colts website published a 1997 letter sent to owner Jim Irsay from gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson in which the famed writer called out Irsay for causing the team to "suck" because of his "crazed outbursts."
"To Jim Irsay
The Colts suck because you diss the whole concept of "Team" — or even "Gang".
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. And your shame will be as the shame of many; yr days will be spastic episodes full of great crooked cops & wrongful dishonor…that is what I see in the future - which is yesterday for you poor bastards because you're too dumb to even Fake a "team" concept or even to say the word "we" in public. That's why you can't have any fun with the Colts & you won't have any fun with the Browns or the Whores or The Globtrotters.
Be careful, James — yr greed crazed outbursts are beginning to rub off on people. "
Replace a few key words and names and that reads like something Thompson would have written about Richard Nixon in 1971. In fact, the two were friends since being introduced by writer/director Cameron Crowe. Irsay said Thompson would often joke about how he'd end up moving the team to Cleveland.
A steady diet of mescaline and ether was probably one of the best ways to watch the Colts during the 20 years leading up to that letter. From 1977, the Baltimore/Indianapolis team had no 10-win seasons and made the playoffs just three times. The team had made the postseason in back-to-back years when Thompson sent the letter. The Colts went 3-13 the next season, enabling them to land Peyton Manning(notes) in the 1998 draft.
Before you start thinking Thompson was an excellent judge of the character of NFL owners, consider his description of Dan Snyder in an ESPN column from 2003:
[...] that is only one of the reasons I was visited last week by the eminent Daniel Snyder, "new" owner of the Washington Redskins. Dan gave me a football and we exchanged many other impressive gifts, such as the world's best whiskey, and the finest Davidoff cigars. I liked Snyder and I have vastly improved expectations for the Redskins this year. They are a team that has played a large part in my life.
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