Ken Stabler’s Passing Leaves Raider Nation In Mourning


When the Tuscaloosa News broke the story that former Oakland Raiders‘ great Ken Stabler passed earlier on Thursday, it was met with stunned disbelief. Not too long after that though, the Tuscaloosa News retracted their story, saying it was a mistake. And the Raider Nation let out a collective sigh of relief.

That relief though, did not last long as Stabler’s family soon after confirmed that the Raiders’ legend had indeed, passed away from complications due to stage four colon cancer.

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On Stabler’s Facebook page, his family posted the following statement:

"“We announce with great sadness that our father, Ken Stabler, passed away Wednesday, July 8 as a result of complications associated with colon cancer.He 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, such as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” and Van Morrison’s “Leaves Falling Down.”He quietly battled Stage 4 colon cancer since being diagnosed in February 2015.He wanted to make a difference in the lives of others in both life and death. At his request, his brain and spinal cord were donated to Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center to support research for degenerative brain disease in athletes.He was a kind, generous and unselfish man, never turning down an autograph request or an opportunity to help someone in need. A great quarterback, he was an even greater father to his three girls and grandfather to his two “grand snakes.”We are grateful for the tremendous love and support from friends and fans. We ask that you please respect our privacy during this difficult time as we grieve this heartbreaking loss.Funeral arrangements are pending. In lieu of flowers, we ask that donations be made to the XOXO Stabler Foundation to support research of colon cancer and sports-related head trauma. More information will be available on Ken Stabler’s Facebook fan page and the XOXO Stabler Foundation.He is survived by his three daughters Kendra Stabler Moyes (husband, Scott), Alexa (fiancé, Hunter Adams) and Marissa; his grandsons Jack and Justin Moyes; sister Carolyn Bishop; nephew Scott Bishop; and great nephew and niece Tayler and Payton Bishop. He is preceded in death by his father, Leroy Stabler, and mother, Sally Stabler.”"

Stabler, aka the Snake, helped make the Raiders one of the most dominant teams of the 1970’s. He was a four time Pro Bowler for Oakland, and was named the league MVP in 1974 – the year he led the Raiders to a Super Bowl XI triumph over the Minnesota Vikings.

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Said former coach and fellow Raider legend, John Madden:

"“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.”"

Though Stabler was still very much a public figure, he fought his battle with cancer courageously – and privately. When Stabler’s passing was announced, former teammate Ted Hendricks said:

"“That was him. He just wanted to fight it quietly…he was such a gentleman.”"

And that one word – “gentleman” – seems to describe Stabler perfectly, for very few people – if any at all – seem to have anything but a kind word for Stabler.

In ten seasons with the Silver and Black, Stabler amassed nearly 20,000 yards through the air. He threw for 150 touchdowns over that span, and had a QB rating of 80.2.

When Oakland released him following the 1979 season, Stabler went on to play three seasons in New Orleans and another two years in Houston, capping off his fifteen season NFL career with 27,938 yards passing, 194 touchdowns, and a 75.3 QB rating in an era where passing was almost an afterthought in favor of a strong, powerful running game.

Stabler had that Raider look and attitude about him. He was gruff, unpolished, unfiltered, and when he was on the field, he wanted nothing more than to rip your heart out of your chest and show it to you while it was still beating. He had a lust for life and always seemed to be having fun on the field.

Stabler came to symbolize those 1970’s Raider squads. He was tough. Gritty. Determined to impose his will. Stabler was a rogue in the best sense of the word, and he had a free, rebellious spirit. He was unorthodox, and his style of play wasn’t pretty, but he would find a way to beat you.

He was, in a word, unique. If we were permitted a second, it would be special.

The fact that Stabler, whose career numbers are on par with Super Bowl winning QB Terry Bradshaw, as well as some of his other contemporaries, the question must be asked – why in the world is Stabler not in the Hall of Fame?

Induction into the Hall was something that Stabler deserved to experience while he was alive. That he’s not enshrined in Canton is a crime. Now, we can only hope that somehow, some way, he gets into the Hall where he belongs. Albeit posthumously. It’s an honor he should have been afforded long ago.

It is a tremendously sad day among the Raider Nation as we mourn the passing of an icon. A legend. And one of the greatest quarterbacks in franchise history. He was a good man whose story will continue to inspire people around the world.

RIP Snake. Thank you for the memories. Your presence in and around the team and organization will be missed.

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