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Ryan Leaf over Peyton Manning??? Hunter S. Thompson thought so

This is what cocaine does to your brain.

Super Bowl 50 - Carolina Panthers v Denver Broncos Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Guten morgen, Broncos Country!

It’s a Saturday. The Tour de France starts today. The World (Euro) Cup quarterfinals get underway today. I’m going to Germany in two days, and there is no “news” to speak of related to the Broncos (unless you want to do a list of the “10 most...” or “5 underrated...” or “7 biggest surprises...” or... OMG, I can’t do or read another list).

But there was this hilarious tidbit on Twitter yesterday from Ryan Leaf that deserves attention. Remember Leaf? The No. 2 overall draft pick in 1998 who was a huge NFL bust with the Chargers? Yeah, that Ryan Leaf.


So you read that right.

The cocaine-addicted journalist and author of “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” and other cult classics wrote a letter to Colts owner Jim Irsay a month before the draft promising him $30 million if he drafted Ryan Leaf instead of Peyton Manning (money, of course, Thompson planned to make from the 1998 film adaptation of “Fear and Loathing,” starring Johnny Depp - which ended up costing $18.5 million to make and bringing in just $10.7 million to the box office).

“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,” he wrote to Irsay in a letter. “But the Leaf boy is another matter. Leaf looks strong and Manning doesn’t.”

Thompson did know enough to wonder about how well Irsay was set on the offensive line - something that plagued the Colts most of Manning’s career.

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

Manning turned out to be a lot stronger than a china doll (at least until the end of his career).

So kids, let this be a good anti-cocaine lesson - not only will you make sub-par movies, you’ll give terrible football advice. For a glance into the drug-induced world of Thompson, note Andrew Mason’s addendum on the author:

Luckily for the Colts, Irsay didn’t listen, drafted the University of Tennessee standout instead and enjoyed a 141-67 record, making the playoffs 11 times and having eight seasons of at least 12 victories plus two Super Bowl appearances and one Lombardi trophy. Meanwhile, Leaf flamed out in San Diego his rookie year and lasted a few more in the league before entering a period of his life that involved addiction to painkillers, a suicide attempt and imprisonment before a change that saved his life (and he is now back on track serving as an ambassador for the Transcend Recovery Community).

Far luckier for Broncos Country was the fact that Irsay got greedy for another young quarterback 13 years later and gave up Manning to Denver.

So in a weird, Hunter S. Thompson sort of plot where Manning ended up in Mile High possibly because he didn’t get drafted to the Chargers, the Broncos got the last laugh in the Ryan Leaf/Jim Irsay saga.


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