By Hunter S. Thompson
Page 2 columnist

Some fool wrote a story last week about the Oakland Raiders and their nasty reputation as the outlaws and bad boys of the NFL.

Of all the new Raiders, this writer said, "None represents Raiders lore as much as Tyrone Wheatley does." And above the story was a photo of Wheatley on a couch with his three infant children, a giddy smile on his face; and, said the caption, his hobbies are "organizing furious Monopoly games at every NFL stop and falling asleep on his lawn."

I was stunned. This was a savage insult to the whole Raiders tradition -- which is extremely dangerous and criminal. The Raiders of old were vicious and crazy and cruel. Hanging around their locker room was like hanging around the weight room at Folsom Prison. Not all of them were ex-cons, but there were always enough Killers and Rapists and Bank Robbers around to make you nervous.

I know. I once moved in those circles. I knew the players and spent a lot of time with them. They were friends, and some still are.

I see Phil Villapiano on TV, talking smartly about the art of destroying running backs. Freddy Biletnikoff is a Raider receivers coach now.

The Raiders of yore had no mercy on anything they could get their hands on. They strangled cops and ate their own babies. ...

I was standing in a San Francisco courtroom a few years back, on a routine traffic offense, when I heard the assistant DA ask the judge to put me in jail for 30 days. It was an outrage. I turned to the DA and almost bit him. But he just gave me a sideways smile and said, "Hi, Hunter. Good to see you again."

For a moment I thought I was being mocked. I stared at him, a big handsome boy in a Palm Beach suit, his hands clasped behind his back, deadly serious.

It was my old friend Bob Moore, tight end for the Raiders when they were the terrors of the AFC. I was happy to see him, and we shook hands as my lawyer clawed at me, and the judge stared balefully down. Then, I heard Moore again ask for 30 days in jail, his voice crisp and cool, utterly without mercy.

"You bastard," I said later, having a drink in his office. "Why in hell did you do that?"

Did you miss Hunter S. Thompson's debut column on Page 2 last Monday?

If so, take a look back on some changes the good doctor would prescribe for Major League Baseball.

He shrugged and smiled. "Hunter, I'm on the other side now. It's my job to put criminals like you in jail."

I understood. He was a different kind of hitman now, but he still had the soul of a Raider -- pure black.

Nice story, eh? I could tell a few more, but we don't have time or space. And the whole Bush family, from Texas, should be boiled in poison oil.


HST 11-13-00

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, will be released in December. A regular contributor to various national and international publications, Thompson now lives in a fortified compound near Aspen, Colo. His column, "Hey, Rube," will appear each Monday on Page 2.