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Raiders Legend Ken Stabler Passes Away at the Age of 69
Legendary Raiders quarterback Ken “The Snake” Stabler passed away on Thursday at the age of 69 after battling colon cancer since February.
According to a statement issued by his family, the Alabama native was surrounded by his loved ones, including his three daughters, and was listening to his favorite music, including Leonard Skynard’s “Sweet Home Alabama.”
Stabler played for the Oakland Raiders from 1970 to 1979. During that span he set the franchise records for passing yards (19,078) and touchdowns (150). He also appeared in four Pro Bowls, won the NFL Offensive Players of the Year and MVP awards in 1974, and led the Raiders to a victory over the Vikings in Super Bowl XI in 1977.
Here’s what John Madden had to say about Stabler in the Raiders’ official team statement:
“I was head coach of the Raiders the entire time Kenny was there, and he led us to a whole bunch of victories, including one in Super Bowl XI. 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. 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.”
Of course, as good as Stabler was on the field, he is remembered just as much for what he did off the field. And I’m not talking about charitable work. You don’t get a nickname like “The Snake” by being a choir boy. Stabler and his Raiders teammates basically spent the entire 1970s partying like rock stars. Stabler himself admitted to playing many a game half-drunk or hungover. And Raiders training camps in Santa Rosa, California, were like their booze and sex olympics.
“It was just kids having fun and life being good,” Stabler once said. “We couldn’t wait to get to training camp, to get away from wives and girlfriends, play some football, have a few drinks at night. And do that for eight weeks.”
Meanwhile, in his own memoir, aptly titled Snake, Stabler wrote about a special tradition they had to commemorate their conquests in Santa Rosa.
“The collecting of female undergarments,” Stabler wrote, “became an annual rite of training camp for many of the Raiders…I liked to tack my collection up on the walls.”
Later in life, Stabler refused to reaffirm that story, probably because he had three daughters and didn’t want to be remembered for his epic panty collection. If Alabama coach Nick Saban is to be believed, the former Crimson Tide QB successfully escaped the shadow of his hard-living past.
“I was lucky enough to work with him on our radio broadcast my first year in Tuscaloosa and also have some special memories with him at a couple of our golf events,” Saban said in a prepared statement. “He was not only an outstanding football player, he was an all-around great guy and someone I really enjoyed spending time with. We lost a legend today and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”
Hat Tip – [ESPN]