Hunter S. Thompson offered Jim Irsay cash to draft Ryan Leaf over Peyton Manning

San Diego Chargers quarterback Ryan Leaf, the number two pick in this year's NFL draft, aims a pass downfield in his first game as professional Saturday Aug. 8, 1998 in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
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The saga for the top pick in the 1998 NFL Draft took a bizarre turn Thursday.

Twenty years after the Indianapolis Colts changed the face of their franchise by selecting Peyton Manning over Ryan Leaf as their quarterback of the future, Leaf shared a message from one of his supporters that has to be seen to be believed.

The former quarterback posted a letter to Instagram Thursday that was sent to Jim Irsay from author Hunter S. Thompson, offering the Colts owner $30 million to draft Leaf over Manning.

In the letter, dated March 14, 1998, Thompson refers to Irsay's "addled request for a quick $30M loan to secure the services of the Manning kid." He declines, but then puts the offer on the table to pay up for Leaf.

"The Leaf boy is another matter. He looks strong & Manning doesn't - or at least not strong enough to handle that 'Welcome to the NFL' business for two years without a world-class offensive line," Thompson wrote. "Think about it. You don't want a china doll back there when that freak Sapp comes crashing in."

In this May 22, 1990, author Hunter S. Thompson signals a 'V' for victory sign as he leaves the Pitkin County Courthouse in Aspen, Colo. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, file)
In this May 22, 1990, author Hunter S. Thompson signals a 'V' for victory sign as he leaves the Pitkin County Courthouse in Aspen, Colo. (AP Photo/Ed Andrieski, file)

Thompson closed the letter offering money to Irsay if he needed it to sign Leaf, noting he expected "to be very rich" when Johnny Depp's "Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas," a movie based on the famous Thompson work, hit theaters in May of that year.

Of course, as it turned out, Peyton Manning played 13 seasons with Indianapolis, then four more in Denver, winning two Super Bowls. Leaf played just over two seasons in San Diego and Dallas, before his life fell apart, landing him in a Montana jail cell.

But Leaf is experiencing a resurrection of sorts, sharing the story of his rise and fall with the public and fellow athletes. He spoke about his experiences with WTHR.com columnist Bob Kravitz at length in a column this past May.

As for the Thompson letter and the financial offer that could have changed his life, Leaf said in his Instagram post "this is unbelievable, hysterical & ludicrous!!"

He spoke about the letter with NFL Network host Rich Eisen in an interview Thursday.