By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2 columnist

Sunday was a bad day for quarterbacks, and a worse day for the poor fools who bet on them. I was one of these, and I am still in shock from the horrible beating I took on the Patriots-Colts game. It put me so out of whack that I only vaguely noticed that I won big with Carolina in the second game of the day.

"This is a sorry day for pro football," I said to the sheriff as he raked in his huge winnings. Both games sucked in a very deep way. It looked like a Hells Angels riot at the infamous Altamont rock festival, or even the first wild days of our latest war against Muslims in Iraq, when our finely-trained U.S. combat troops were mopping up on the bloody road to Baghdad.

But so what? Violence and brutality are no strangers out here at the Owl Farm. We have known both for many years; and on some days, I almost enjoy them -- if only because I am a fifth-generation American, and that is the way I was raised. I own property and I frequently shoot sporting guns, just for the practice.

Practice is absolutely necessary for the expert shootist, just as it is for the U.S. Special forces and the hard-hitting New England Patriots. Winning is a full-time job.

Right. And never forget that, bubba, etc. etc. That is the kind of macho gunslinger talk that you hear in any sporting room where hard-bitten gamblers habitually gather to watch major sporting events, and my lounge out here in the mountains is no different. Here are some notes I jotted down on Sunday night. Let's have a look at them and see if I learned anything.

All bets are off when you go into Foxboro to play the Patriots on their own turf. They are different from most football teams -- in that they will attack your STRENGTH more often than they will methodically probe your Weakness. Most teams try to find a weakness and exploit it repeatedly. That is the prevailing theory for winning teams. Attack the WEAKEST link in your chain until it breaks, and victory will surely be yours.

Peyton Manning, Tom Brady
Manning is the second MVP is an many weeks the Pats sent packing.

Maybe so, but that is where Bill Belichick is different from most NFL coaches. He will savagely attack the strongest link in your chain. That is how the Patriots confuse people, and that is how they beat the brains out of the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

They blitzed Peyton Manning into hamburger, and they smothered the league's best receiver, Marvin Harrison, into a coma. WHACK, WHACK, WHACK, JUST LIKE THAT. Without their passing game, the Colts were helpless. Their previously unstoppable passing attack was the strongest link in their chain.

Ho ho ho. That game was over in the first five minutes, when the supercool QB Tom Brady took New England the length of the field for a quick 7-0 lead on the first drive -- and after that, it was only a question of how much punishment Manning could stand.

It was a painful thing to watch -- for me, anyway, since I have a long-standing personal attachment to the Colts. On some nights I wear a No. 32 Edgerrin James jersey, a present from team owner James Irsay.

Why not? I have many good friends in the world of sports. I am a professional sportswriter, among other things, and I take the games seriously. It is only one of my many powerful addictions, and I don't mind admitting any of them. Mahalo.

I am also a big-time Politics junkie, but we will have to save that story for later because I am running out of time on this deadline and the bell is about to ring. Today was football, tomorrow will be Politics: the first presidential voting in Iowa, where I like Dean to win because of his consistently strong and loyal grass-roots organization and also because he did not vote for the Patriot Act, or the War in Iraq. We will see.

As for the Super Bowl, I figure the Patriots will win by doing the same thing they've been doing for the last 15 games. They will cripple the QB whip on the Carolina receivers like a pack of vicious hyenas on a wounded lion. The score? Let's say 21-14. Why not? This is the gambling season.

THE END. Thank you.

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson was born and raised in Louisville, Ky. His books include "Hell's Angels," "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72," "The Great Shark Hunt," "The Curse of Lono," "Generation of Swine," "Songs of the Doomed," "Screwjack," "Better Than Sex," "The Proud Highway," "The Rum Diary," and "Fear and Loathing in America." His latest book, "Kingdom of Fear," 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 regularly on Page 2.




Hunter
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HEY, RUBE