Thursday, January 31, 2013

Cleveland Golf

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Hunter S. Thompson Would Have Enjoyed the 2012 NFL Season

I miss Hunter S. Thompson. I miss his writing. He decided to shoot himself in 2005, at the age of 67, in his fortified compound in Colorado. And I respect that decision. But I think he missed one of the more engaging, ugly, and intriguing NFL seasons in recent memory.

What would Hunter have to say about replacement officials? A devoted gambler, the tremendous influence that these amateur flag-throwers had on games might have driven him insane. Or thrilled him, adding even more randomness and chaos to an already difficult to predict maelstrom of variables.

Thompson lived in San Francisco for a period, and was once addicted to betting on the 49ers. He probably would have enjoyed the rise of Colin Kaepernick to prominence. An exciting, playmaking, tattooed star taking over as frontman of an already successful band that hadn't quite broken through to super-stardom. Kaepernick took over from a competent, but predictable lead singer. Alex Smith was the guy that sounds okay in a small club. Kaepernick is a rock star that can command an entire stadium.

The rampant PED usage by NFL players probably wouldn't have bothered Hunter. He used plenty of substances himself. One of his more famous quotes is: "I wouldn't recommend sex, drugs, or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me." If LSD and ether helped Hunter write (or at least influenced the experiences he had that he would eventually write about), I don't think he would mind players who use adderall or deer antler to play football. Football is already an unnatural act, and football players are already freaks of nature. Why not use chemicals to augment that freakishness?

He might mind the concussions. Back in the early 2000s he bemoaned the number of QB injuries there were in the NFL. It was an epidemic. And now QB injuries are fewer, but repeated skull bashing has created a generation of NFL players whose brain tissues have been reduced to ground hamburger. I think he'd have a problem with that. From his writings, such as a piece he wrote after Dale Earnhardt died, he seemed to have an ethical line that sports should not cross. Violence was fine, so long as there was no blood, no permanent injury. And once that line was crossed, sport became disgusting. Stadiums became Roman Colosseums, fans became voyeuristic sadists, and games became crimes.

Then there's the New York Jets: an endless source of writing material. They'd be pitiable if they didn't try so hard to be unlikable. I think Thompson would thoroughly enjoy the dysfunction of the Jets. Everything from butt fumbles to Tim Tebow to Rex Ryan's tattoos to snacks. The Jets are almost too cartoonish to write about, actually. It's like doing a thesis paper on the shortcomings of Wile E. Coyote's bird-catching tactics, it's too easy to point out the mistakes.

And finally there's the rise of the rookie QB. I think Thompson would have welcomed this fresh blood infused into the League. A League which has become somewhat repetitive  On Sunday the Super Bowl will have no Tom Brady, no Peyton Manning, and no Ben Roethlisberger for the first time since 2002. Think about that. A decade of football with 1 of 3 QBs always making an appearance in the Big Game. That's tedious. New faces are needed on the game's biggest stage.

RG3 might be Thompson's favorite. He would have reveled in the absurdity of the accusations that Griffin isn't Black enough. He would have loved to see football thrive in the Capital. He would have loved to see Daniel Snyder finally learn that you can't buy success, you have to cultivate, and harvest it from the Draft.

The 2012 NFL season would have offered Hunter S. Thompson a feast of intrigue and barbarity. The greed, the stupidity, the rises, the falls, the inspirational, and the abhorrent.

I'm not sure if there's a Heaven. But if there is, I think Hunter S. Thompson will be up there on Sunday, watching the game, making prop bets with Louis Pasteur, mocking the halftime show with Leo Tolstoy, and going shot for shot with Teddy Roosevelt.

Mahalo, Hunter. You're immortal.