121

Legendary QB Ken Stabler dies at age 69

Share

The Raiders mourned the loss of Ken Stabler Thursday, a clutch and fun-loving left-handed quarterback who came to symbolize the franchise during the glory days of the 1970s.

Stabler, 69, died Wednesday from complications from colon cancer, according to a release from the family.

Unbeknownst to many of his former teammates, Stabler had been diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in February.

Stabler “passed peacefully surrounded by the people he loved most, including his three daughters and longtime partner” as some of his favorite songs played in the background, according to the release.

Nicknamed “The Snake” by a high school coach in Alabama after a long, winding touchdown run, Stabler played for the Raiders from 1970 through 1979 and led the franchise to its first Super Bowl championship following the 1976 season.

“The Raiders are deeply saddened by the passing of the great Ken Stabler,” owner Mark Davis said in a statement. “He was a cherished member of the Raider family and personified what it means to be a Raider. He wore the Silver and Black with pride and poise and will continue to live in the hearts of Raider fans everywhere. Our sincerest thoughts and prayers go out to Kenny’s family.”

In 10 seasons with the Raiders, Stabler was 69-26-1 after winning the job from Daryle Lamonica in 1973 and had signature plays such as the “Sea of Hands” touchdown pass to Clarence Davis in the 1974 playoffs against Miami and the “Holy Roller” intentional fumble for a touchdown by Dave Casper against the San Diego Chargers in 1978.

Stabler arrived in 1970 as a second-round draft pick out of Alabama under coach Paul “Bear” Bryant. Known more for his mobility than his throwing arm, Stabler evolved into a deadly-accurate passer _ particularly when the game was on the line.

In stark contrast to coach John Madden, who prowled the sidelines wearing his emotions on his short sleeves, Stabler had an ability to remain calm in pressure situations.

“I’ve often said, If I had one drive to win a game to this day, and I had a quarterback to pick, I would pick Kenny,” Madden said in a statement released by the club. “Snake was a lot cooler than I was. He was a perfect quarterback and a perfect Raider. When you think about the Raiders you think about Ken Stabler. Kenny loved life. It is a sad day for all Raiders.”

Former Raiders right tackle John Vella, who protected Stabler’s blind side, said “You couldn’t have picked a better guy to be the leader of a team coached by John Madden and owned by Al Davis . . . he was probably the most popular Raider of all time. If you held a vote, I don’t think it would be close.”

Stabler, who also played for the Houston Oilers (1980-81) and New Orleans Saints (1982-84) was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1974 and probably had his best season in 1976, when he completed 66.7 percent of his passes for 27 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in a predominantly run-oriented offense.

In the days preceding a 32-14 Super Bowl XI win over the Minnesota Vikings, Stabler was so good he had Madden worried.

“That whole practice, we passed the ball one-on-one, skeleton, team (drills), only one ball hit the ground. One ball,” Madden told this newspaper in 2006. “It was a ball out on the left to Dave Casper. It went right through his hands. That was as good a practice as I’ve ever been involved in. Stabler was as good as I’ve ever seen him.”

Tom Flores, the former Raiders coach and an assistant at the time, said Madden cut practice short and was concerned Stabler had peaked too soon.

Halfback Pete Banaszak said he went out for a few beers with Stabler and wide receiver Fred Biletnikoff following practice and went back to the team hotel believing the Vikings had no chance.

“Snake said if Minnesota plays us the way we think they are, we’re going to kill them,” Banaszak said. “And we did.”

Stabler and the Raiders were known to have a good time at local watering holes, and they were given a wide berth by Madden, whose only rules were to be on time and play hard.

“He was a unique guy and he had so much fun playing the game and off the field it rubbed off on all of us,” Banaszak said. “He always knew the right thing to say in a serious situation and we’d pull it off.”

Raiders fullback mark vanEeghen remembered a trip to New York to face the Jets where Stabler had apparently carried his Friday night party well into Saturday and beyond.

“I’m going to breakfast to get my steak and eggs at 8 o’clock the day of the game,” vanEeghen said. “Kenny’s just walking in, and he looks like hell. I asked him what time he got in. He said, `Mark, I’m just getting in.’ . . . we won the game. Now, he didn’t do that all the time, but if he was going to stay out a little late we were going to pick him up.”

Vella said Stabler would occasionally ask for a another second or two to throw when the Raiders were in a difficult situation and that, “It was never hard to come up with an extra effort for guy like Kenny.”

In 2009, Stabler conceded he wasn’t the “first in the building and last to leave” type when it came to preparing to play football but said he didn’t have to be, considering the talent on the roster.

“I didn’t really work at the game. I didn’t have to,” Stabler said. “The game came easy to me. Once we learned the system, we could play, but you have to lok at the people in the system . . . I’m the last one to tell somebody about work ethic. On the field, I worked hard and understood the system. It was old-school, simple football _ just go play.”

Flores worked closely with Stabler as an offensive assistant and said “He was perfect for what we had at that time. He was loose, he was fun to be around, he was competitive, and most importantly, he won.”

Banaszak echoed the sentiments of other teammates who didn’t even know Stabler was seriously ill.

“I’m sitting here watching TV and not even comprehending what I’m watching,” Banaszak said. “I’m stunned.”

Share

Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • _Mista_

    The drool buckets that get so mad and wanna fight other drool bucket bloggers are the best….lol

    They call me the angry one while I’m having laugh and they are ready to fist fight each other, haha

    Neanderthal animals, morons.

  • _Mista_

    RIP Snake

  • Ajemerso

    Hey mista you do not want to talk to your good friend ajemerso

  • Ajemerso

    Finally new post

  • 1960AutumnWind

    Nice post Jerry

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    We knew it was coming. Took longer than I thought to wake him up.

  • _Mista_

    Panera bread Manager decks female employee, black on black Manager employee relations. Maybe he is the father of the FSU QB ?

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/manager-manhattan-panera-punches-female-employee-article-1.2285919

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    Then why are all your posts antagonistic, and most others aren’t?

  • Pass the Kool-Aid, Bro

    Loved the Snake. RIP, wish Al a belated Happy Birthday for me!

  • R8der4evr

    Man really
    Snake passes away and you are worried about all this BS
    WOW

  • R8der4evr

    You are not free from the wrath

  • Thec

    RIP “SNAKE”…….In my mind you were the GOAT!!!!!!

  • RikAvatrboy

    OMG..

  • the monstrous dr robert

    only 17k comments on the last one. after 30k, it felt like nothing.

  • RikAvatrboy

    That’s how the anti Christ works.

  • R8der4evr

    Doc
    Snake won games it’s a fact
    I know your take but really he led many games that were losses into wins.

  • gangosix

    RIP Kenny stabler, you will be missed

  • Nation, today we mourn the passing of a legend.

    Enjoy him once again:

    http://youtu.be/Gh2bNMK58UA

  • AlDavisJr

    Finally found the definitive answer—this explains sista:

    “flatworms take kink to a whole new level: when they can’t find a partner, they will stab themselves in the head with their needle-like penises”
    Discover Magazine

  • startsthefire

    Two athletes i’ve watched in my lifetime who were absolute money with the game on the line: Michael Jordan and Ken Stabler.

  • Thec

    Every time he walked on the field, you knew we were going to win….

  • BuckeyeRaider

    The Raiders website has a nice picture slideshow of Snake. A lot of em I’ve seen. The pictures from SB XI, with Freddie, and with Madden.

    One was kinda cool, and one I’d definitely never seen before. Looks like they are at a family day event or something. Kenny has a lil boy in his lap. Might be Gene’s, IDK.

    Anyways, Upshaw is leaning over giving Stabler a kiss on the cheek. They’re both gone now.

  • R8der4evr

    Fact

  • _Mista_

    Expect M Davis to do some sort of tribute week 1 or maybe even the first home pre-season game. The torch will be lit in his honor I’m sure.

  • the monstrous dr robert

    one of my all time favs and i love him.

    but i don’t feel logically that one player can win football games.

    he had casper, belitnikoff, branch, ven eeghen, davis, shell, upshaw, dalby, et al.

    and that defense.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    _Mista_ • an hour ago

    40 monkeys beat 1 white guy to a bloody
    pulp. You can hear the racist animals taunting and verbally assaulting
    him while he lays on the ground in blood bath.

    Gumby still says he’s never made a racist comment.

  • the monstrous dr robert

    well……that didn’t happen though.

  • _Mista_

    You probably think about me way too much!

    What would your shrink tell you to do ?

  • Ajemerso

    Hey mista

  • the monstrous dr robert

    was ur father black?

    he apparently hit u a lot.

  • R8der4evr

    Yes he did
    But as THE leader he deserves the credit

  • the monstrous dr robert

    geez

  • _Mista_

    No and no.

    Don’t you criticize others for making things up and pretending to know about you offline ?

    Rhetorical question Doolittle…

  • rifflicks

    Because most of them were you and madden raider

  • the monstrous dr robert

    john madden was the leader.

  • 1960AutumnWind

    @InsideNFLMedia: .@nflnetwork will air Kenny Stabler-related programming throughout the day on Friday. RIP Snake

    Not HOF material? Yea right

  • _Mista_

    Whats racist about that ?

  • the monstrous dr robert

    i asked a question and made a snide remark.

    i didn’t say anything was fact.

  • the monstrous dr robert

    jealous

  • 1960AutumnWind

    Monkeys?

  • _Mista_

    We lost the Snake today and you spew nonsense into this thread ?

    You vile P0S do yo have any respect ?

  • the monstrous dr robert

    oh cmon.

    monkeys, animals.

  • @annkillion: If a league’s network dedicates a day to playing games a player starred in, that player should probably be in that league’s hall of fame.

  • the monstrous dr robert

    _Mista_ • 13 minutes ago

    Panera bread Manager decks female employee, black on black Manager employee relations. Maybe he is the father of the FSU QB ?

    http://www.nydailynews.com/new

  • the monstrous dr robert

    he will likely get in now.

  • _Mista_

    KK calls white people “crackers” freely with no repercussions so I decided it would be ok if I called blacks “monkeys”.

    Made this decision yesterday.

    Is it a problem ?

  • _Mista_

    Well I said that an hour ago.
    I said I never said anything racist weeks or months ago….so Purv led you down a road to nowhere.

    Try thinking for yourself.

  • _Mista_

    And ?

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    He’s racist, too. Not as vile as you.

  • Anyone watch CSNBA Sportstalk live? Tim Kawakami’s voice was noticeably cracking whilst refecting on kenny stabler.