By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2 columnist

Hi, folks. My name is still Hunter and I am still a fool for football -- or maybe just a fool, because last night I had a strange vision that featured Miami and New Orleans playing in Super Bowl XXXVII when (and if) it finally rolls around in February, and I think I saw the Dolphins winning it by a score of 31-17.

How's that for jumping the gun, eh? Some people will call it premature, but not me. A vision is a vision, whether it reveals itself 24 hours ahead of the actual game, or 24 months, and I never ignore these creepy little flashes -- but I RARELY BET real money on them unless I can get 22-1 odds. ... That way I can honor just about every vision that comes to me in the course of a season, and still break even.

Ho ho. Don't try this at home, folks -- at least not until you have checked your visions against the record for at least 22 years, like I have. The downside in this kind of gambling is that it can be Grief, humiliation and, in some cases, an agonizing reappraisal of your whole life.

So why am I saying these things? You might ask. If pain has made me so wise, why am I trying to hurt myself again by betting on long shots? Am I a fool?

No. I am a sportswriter and a lifelong football addict -- so why not?

That is what I said to my odd neighbor, Omar, last night when we were discussing pro football in my secluded attic-office. ... Omar has been in the neighborhood for a while now, along with his star-crossed little sister, Omin, and they have both become High-end football fanatics who love to gamble (Omar more than Omin, who rarely appears in public and has another home in Big Sur, where she lives in the winter with her family), and Omar has learned enough about the game to gamble shrewdly on most days.

"I will give you 22-1," he said, "but only if you give me the same bet with New England and San Francisco."

Ricky Williams
The Good Doctor envisions Ricky Williams' Dolphins running over the Saints in Super Bowl XXXVII.

"Never in hell." I said.

We finally settled on 15-1, which seemed about right.

"Why Not?" I said. "We have 22 more weeks of football to get through. Hell, we might both be dead from anthrax by then."

"Nonsense," he said quickly. "But what about the Broncos. Why won't you bet on your homeboys?"

"I am," I replied. "I will bet against them, at 20-1."

Omar's grasp of American football was improving. Two years ago he thought a football was round.

"How did you get so smart so fast?" I asked.

"Well," he said, after giving my question some thought, "maybe it is because I studied American football very intensively for 10 years before I even met you."

I laughed at him. "We will see," I smirked. "I will bet you $100,000 that I will pick more winners than you do this season."

He reached into the pocket of his long black jacket and pulled out a fist-full of money. "Yes," he muttered, "I think I have it right here." He smiled faintly and dropped 100 big ones down on the bar.

I was stunned, but not entirely surprised by his bold maneuver. "Fair enough," I said. "I will go along with just about anything, in September. Can I give you a check?"

"Of course," he chirped. "Money means nothing to me, nothing at all." He paused. "Why are you staring at me like that?"

"Because I hate people like you," I said sharply. "Your instincts are Evil, and you are overcharging me for petroleum products." I flashed a grotesque-looking grin at him, a face he had never seen before. "You might get away with that oil rip-off," I told him. "But you will never get away with pretending to know Football. I will beat you like a gong.

BUY THE BOOK
Click here to buy Hunter S. Thompson's new book, Fear and Loathing in America : The Brutal Odyssey of an Outlaw Journalist.

Just then a loud knocking came on the front door, and Omar disappeared out the back. Moments later I heard his gray, high-powered Land Rover disappearing up the road with a dull atavistic roar.

And that was that for last Sunday. Other people came by to try their luck but they all looked like amateurs, compared to Omar.

"Well," I thought, "Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride."

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson's books include Hell's Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72, The Proud Highway, Better Than Sex and The Rum Diary. His new book, Fear and Loathing in America, has just been released. A regular contributor to various national and international publications, Thompson now lives in a fortified compound near Aspen, Colo. His column, "Hey, Rube," appears each Monday on Page 2.




Hunter
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HEY, RUBE