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Legendary QB Ken Stabler dies at age 69

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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.”

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Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer

  • rifflicks

    habla Englais

  • 1960AutumnWind

    So because KK is a racist jerk it’s ok for you? Btw him and I have had our discussions on racism.

  • Tecmo Bo

    SNAAAAAAAAAAAAAKE!!!!! ='(

  • _Mista_

    Geez what?
    Nobody has a problem with KK calling whites “crackers” but you have a problem with “monkeys” ?

    Whos the real racist ?

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    Both with and without Malibu Rum!

  • rifflicks

    Herrera was there with a gun on him and threatened to kill him if he said one bad thing about Stabler

  • 1960AutumnWind

    How about both are wrong and imfamatory?

  • _Mista_

    No, because it is tolerated and accepted by all the PC correct hypocrites I decided it’s ok for me.

  • the monstrous dr robert

    _Mista_ Purvisman/Eternal Optimist • 4 minutes ago

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

    You vile P0S do yo have any respect ?

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    Replay that in your mind, everyone.

  • the monstrous dr robert

    only if u have no cares about being a racist urself.

  • _Mista_

    I didn’t say it within the last hour.

    What I said weeks ago doesn’t apply to the last hour.

    Back to the drawing board fktard.
    🙂

  • the monstrous dr robert

    fine, but don’t be surprised when u are correctly referred to as a racist piece of crap.

  • 1960AutumnWind

    Here’s a concept don’t stoop to that level? It looks like you want to take it beyond.

  • BuckeyeRaider

    Hell I stopped in here for a second last night, and he was on another racist rant about the FSU QB that got kicked out of school for punching the chick in the bar. MistaClown posted a link to the footage.

    He said the dude should be hung from a tree.

    No, he should be arrested and prosecuted for assault. kicked off of the FSU football team, and ridiculed, because his best sucker punch couldn’t even put down a lil 120 lb. drunk co-ed. She kind of shook him off.

    Mista clamoring for a black man to be “hung from a tree” says much more about this bigoted POS, than that punk QB.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    What is a cracker? Gumby? Jame?

  • _Mista_

    I have been called a racist without ever uttering a racist comment in here so I had nothing to lose.

    🙂

  • the monstrous dr robert

    it’s real easy. say u crossed the line and regret the post.

    then move on.

  • _Mista_

    Maybe I do…

  • the monstrous dr robert

    have u missed the constant insults hurled at kell for doing it/

  • _Mista_

    Was already called that without ever saying anything racist.

    🙂

  • the monstrous dr robert

    well, i guess u decided to earn it retroactively.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    I am slacking,despite my prodigious copy/paste’s!

  • the monstrous dr robert

    except ur personal integrity.

    i’m called a racist too. i’ve never said anything racist.

    but i won’t do it just to do it.

  • the monstrous dr robert

    u still got me my over 10k.

  • _Mista_

    I didn’t wedge into anybody’s thread with that it was my own comment. Nobody had to reply.

    Purv interrupted my Snake thread…..Im sure you can see the difference you are so smart, at least you say you are.

  • _Mista_

    No thanks I’ll stand by it.

  • _Mista_

    Apparently I have.

  • _Mista_

    Yet my comment is treated with disapproval and he does it without a shred of outrage. Furthermore I have been called a racist without ever making a racist comment…

    Thanks for your comments 1960.

  • _Mista_

    Yes.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

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

    Neanderthal animals, morons.”

    He does seem so happy and positive all the time.

  • the monstrous dr robert

    i had all these and they were part of the reason i decided to be a fan in chicago bears territory:

  • R8der4evr

    Like it FVCKEN matters you POS

  • the monstrous dr robert

    ur splitting hairs.

  • _Mista_

    So be it.

    I’ll take the label to point out the hypocrisy of the PC police. And I have been falsely labeled anyway.

    🙂

  • the monstrous dr robert

    good for u. it’s official now instead of conjecture.

  • the monstrous dr robert

    well, ur a racist pos and that’s on record now.

  • 1960AutumnWind

    Look Kell and Priest said I was a racist simply because I was against picking JBustus. I proved them wrong by not being a racist not by becoming what they said I was. I was vindicated in end but would of been happy to be wrong and JR succeed.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    Mista_ • 7 minutes ago

    I didn’t say it within the last hour.

    What I said weeks ago doesn’t apply to the last hour.

    Back to the drawing board fktard.

  • _Mista_

    If KK can call whites cracker I can say “hung from a tree”. The real racist are people like you that tolerate 1 thing and condone another.

    Simple as that hypocrite, P0S

  • Raiders for Life

    Good night Kenny.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    Welcome to disqus!

  • _Mista_

    Exactly, thanks for re posting.

  • the monstrous dr robert

    sure thing. a guy on a blog says stupid racist stuff, so u decide it opens up the opportunity for u to do it.

    smart.

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    MY THREAD! GET OFF MY LAWN,GOOK!

  • the monstrous dr robert

    refresh to see stabler’s football cards.

  • Miamiraider78

    You love the attention of other men and when you aren’t getting it, you stalk them like you do JFB. Reflect on your life and analyze how much time you spend on this blog and the purpose of what you do on here. I’m sure you’ll come to the conclusion that you need to seek psychological help.

    🙂

  • Purvisman/Eternal Optimist

    Mista_ the monstrous dr robert • 13 minutes ago

    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_

    All the PC hypocrite racist who never said a peep about KK calling whites “crackers” have all of a sudden become opposed to racist comments when “whites” weren’t the target!

    How FK’n funny is this!

    This went just like I knew it would, thanks for posting.
    Point proven!
    🙂

  • R8der4evr

    Top
    Post
    Imagine that
    Momma didn’t feed you warm milk?