By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2 columnist

    " ... and whosoever was not found written into the book of life was cast into the lake of fire ... "
    -- Revelation 20:15

Super Bowl Sunday is almost upon us now, and I can feel the craziness happening around me like some kind of electric fever. We all understand that somebody is going to be fatally ZAPPED on Sunday, fried to a cinder and doomed forever into football's Hall of Shame.

That is what always happens to the losing team in the biggest game of the season. There is no escape from it. The Winners get rich and famous and the Losers are treated like scum.

We were just getting properly cranked up for the madness of Super Bowl Sunday when a huge black smoked turkey from Texas arrived at the house, and the mood of the room turned ugly. It was a horrible omen. Nobody needs to get a burnt-up turkey from Texas delivered to their front door only 72 hours before the Super Bowl.

It is the worst thing that can happen to a gambler -- with the possible exception of picking up one of these educated rumors that the favored team's quarterback hasn't slept in four nights because of massive pressure(s) being put on him by political candidates in a cruel presidential year.

That is the fate of young Tom Brady, who was happily on his way to his second Super Bowl in three years when he suddenly got ambushed and dangerously distracted by both John Kerry and (Pres.) George W. Bush, who lured Brady into the most treacherous side of politics.

In the language of celebrity politics, they used him like they have used so many others -- as a pawn in their bloodthirsty game. That is what happened to me, and it caused me to hedge at least a few of my many complicated bets on the outcome of Sunday's gigantic game. When I first got wind of Tom Brady's lack of sleep and possible loss of focus when he takes the field, a wave of bad queasiness rolled over me.

Joyce Rumsfeld, Tom Brady, Alma Powell
Even when flanked by Mrs. Rumsfeld and Mrs. Powell, Brady is cool as ice.

What? I thought. That is impossible. Nobody bothers any quarterback who's about to play in the Super Bowl. Not for any reason, much less to get his endorsement in a political campaign. No coach would tolerate it. Hell, if Brady has a bad game on Sunday -- like Peyton Manning did against New England -- and the Pats stumble to defeat, now we will think we know why.

It is an ugly thought, almost as dark as hearing that fixers have gotten to Carolina QB Jake Delhomme would be. There are those of us who still tremble at any mention of what happened to the highly-favored Raiders last year when their all-pro center, Barrett Robbins, went AWOL two nights before game time. It was the final disruption of timing, focus and especially team morale.

The center is the quarterback of the offensive line, and losing him made a confused mess of the high-powered Oakland offense that was thought to be unstoppable. They were smarter, quicker and far more talented, overall, than anything Tampa Bay had shown all season. The Raiders were a lock. I gave them the points and settled back to enjoy a track meet.

Ho ho. The Bucs beat the crap out of Oakland on both offense and defense, shutting down Jerry Rice, Tim Brown and every other Raider Weapon. They speed-rushed Gannon and smothered his receivers, holding Rice to two catches for 15 yards and Brown to zero, and that was it for the track meet. I was humiliated in the eyes of my peers, who laughed in my face as they collected thousands of dollars from me. I will never forget it.

I learned about Brady's political problems from the same highly-placed ESPN source who warned me last year about Oakland's B. Robbins going AWOL from the Super Bowl, so I was not inclined to ignore the Brady rumor -- especially when I noticed the point-spread shrinking daily in Vegas. It was a distant early warning signal.

Tom Brady
After Sunday, the State of the Patriot Union will be great.

I received last year's tip on Sunday morning, too late to change most of my bets on the game -- but Anita just reminds me that I had enough time to lay off a big chunk of my losses by suddenly betting aggressively on the Buccaneers in the final hours, and winning enough of those to cut my real losses in half.

That is why I started taking the Panthers plus-seven (7) last night and today. I still believe New England will win by at least three or four, simply by shutting down Stephen Davis and beating up Delhomme's receivers. The game will be a classic "defensive struggle," probably decided by field-goal kickers and pass-rushers.

"The score at halftime could easily be 3-0," said the ESPN source, who was here in Aspen for the hugely-popular Winter X Games this week. "If this thing about Brady is true, the final score could be 3-0."

"That's impossible," I replied. "It would be the worse game of the year. The NFL couldn't survive it. Belichick would have to commit hari-kari from shame."

"So what?" said Anita. "Maybe Brady wants to be President some day. Maybe that's more important to him than winning some stupid little football game."

Indeed. Brady is a smart boy with big ambitions and a nicely groomed ego, and he has already been bitten by the politics bug. Maybe somebody in the White House is trying to fix the outcome of the Super Bowl. That is always possible, particularly in a corrupt administration like this one.

But don't bet on it. Brady will no doubt have a cool, steady game on Sunday, and the Pats will win convincingly -- just not by more than seven points.

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