The Vault: Hunter S. Thompson, Part III

Originally Published: May 6, 2010
By Greg Hardy | Special to Page 2

Since the 1960s, Hunter S. Thompson made his bones by writing about Fear and Loathing when it comes to politics, motorcycle gangs, guns and Las Vegas. So it's really not fair that he was also a top-rate, mad-dog sports columnist, even in the twilight of his fevered career. Here is a sampling from's Page 2 Vault:

Keep in mind that whenever Hunter Thompson writes about the Kentucky Derby it's not to make it sound like a glamorous destination. His goal is to keep you away from it and save your life.

"Kentucky Derby and other gambling adventures" (May 7, 2001)
The Derby is not my favorite sporting event of the year, despite my deep Kentucky roots & my natural lust for gambling. I have had more truly heinous experiences linked to Churchill Downs than any other venue. And I can tell you, for sure, that Derby week in Louisville is a white-knuckle orgy of Booze & Sex & Violence that, 99 times out of 100, swamps anybody who goes near it in a hurricane of Fear, Pain & Stupefying Disasters that will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

The behavior of the crowd at Churchill Downs is like 100,000 vicious Hyenas going berserk all at once in a space about the size of a 777 jet or the White House lawn. Going to the Derby in person is worse than volunteering to join General Pickett's famous Charge at Gettysburg, and just about as much Fun. ... Take my word for it, folks: I have done it nine or 10 times in a row, and I still have recurring nightmares about it that cause me to wake up sweating & screaming like some kind of pig being eaten alive by meat-bats.

If Hunter Thompson wasn't already a Doonesbury cartoon character, the caricature of his Duke persona would make the perfect mascot to front the Oakland Raiders logo. He loves recounting his glory days in running with its wilder members ... well, except for the details that might still get him arrested.

"Back in the day ..." (April 18, 2003)
NFL Films came to my house last week, and I felt like Alice in Wonderland. It was beautiful and even historic. For a lifelong, totally committed, fun-loving football addict like me, it was like being taken into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

A man called Tuckett led the weird expedition that resulted in my insanely ambitious attempt to explain, in vast detail, the exact Meaning and History of my intense and sometimes tangled relationship with football and gambling and Al Davis and Max McGee and Richard Nixon and Bill Walsh and, quite specifically, with the early days and legends of what is now the RAIDER NATION.

The irony of Thompson bragging about his glory years of being a part of Raiders lore? His stint as an columnist coincided with Oakland suffering the most embarrassing Super Bowl defeat in history.

"Leeches are good for you" (Jan. 27, 2003)
The 48-21 score was deceptively close; it might as well have been 111-6. Only a baffling rash of freak plays toward the end of the third quarter kept the game close enough to avoid a forfeiture by Oakland. They failed in every way, and so did I. The beating came close to utterly destroying my self-esteem. I felt smaller and smaller as the game went on. There was no relief, no mercy, no place to hide from it, and no sane way to explain it. ...

The truly wretched saga of Barret Robbins will hang like a cloud of nerve gas over Super Bowl XXXVII for as long as the game of football is discussed by English-speaking people in the world as we know it today.

And now for something completely different: Listen in as Hunter calls Bill Murray at 3:30 in the morning to pitch the idea of a new sport he invented. Of course firearms are involved.

"Shotgun golf with Bill Murray" (Feb. 15, 2005)
Shotgun Golf was invented in the ominous summer of 2004 AD, right here at the Owl Farm in Woody Creek, Colo. The first game was played between me and Sheriff Bob Braudis, on the ancient Bomb & Shooting Range of the Woody Creek Rod & Gun Club. It was witnessed by many members and other invited guests, and filmed for historical purposes by Dr. Thompson on Super-Beta videotape.

The game consists of one golfer, one shooter and a field judge. The purpose of the game is to shoot your opponent's high-flying golf ball out of the air with a finely-tuned 12-gauge shotgun, thus preventing him (your opponent) from lofting a 9-iron approach shot onto a distant "green" and making a "hole in one." Points are scored by blasting your opponent's shiny new Titleist out of the air and causing his shot to fail miserably. That earns you two points.

But if you miss and your enemy holes out, he (or she) wins two points when his ball hits and stays on the green.

And after that, you trade places and equipment, and move on to round 2.

My patent is pending, and the train is leaving the station, and Murray is a Founding Consultant, along with the Sheriff, and Keith Richards, etc., etc. Invest now or forever hold your peace.

Greg Hardy is a Page 2 contributor. It's all pop culture all the time at

Back to Page 2

• Philbrick: Page 2's Greatest Hits, 2000-2012
• Caple: Fond memories of a road warrior
• Snibbe: An illustrated history of Page 2
Philbrick, Gallo: Farewell podcast Listen

Greg Hardy is a Page 2 contributor. It's all pop culture all the time at