No cooler athlete ever walked the earth than Ken Stabler. He was THE rock star in sports…he was more of a rock star than rock stars. Passing the ball left-handed with deadly accuracy along with the cool nickname… “The Snake”. The way he carried himself with the salt and pepper hair coming out of the back of his helmet while sporting a beard. Always looking like he was having the best time of his life.
He didn’t just exist he lived…and he lived with style. Never saw him panic on a football field. His teammates said he would never call someone out for not blocking or missing someone to get him sacked. John Madden has said that the more pressure Ken was under the calmer he got.
He did what he wanted to do how he wanted to do it. Yes, there are a lot of bar room stories of Ken Stabler like reading the playbook by the jukebox light. He and his teammates made training camp fun… If that is a possible thing. John Madden had the good sense to let men be men and off they went. The rest of the Raiders all respected Stabler and followed him…they had his back and he had their back.
The Snake should be remembered not just for his cool personality… He was a great quarterback and should have been in the Hall of Fame long before he got in… I heard one commentator say that he would rather have Tom Brady etc… nope not me… I would rather have Stabler because for most of his career he played without the Blount rule and the timing plays that modern quarterbacks do would not run as well without that rule that was enforced in 1978… The receivers could be pretty much be beat all down the field…timing was much harder then.
Plus Stabler was just damn tough… all of them were tough back in the 60s-70s. Ken paid for that in the last few years of his life…
Some of the most well-known games in history he was in the middle of… the Holy Roller, The Sea of Hands, The Ghost to the Post and unfortunately the Immaculate Reception game which went the Steelers way but it may be the most memorable game ever.
The 1970’s team was full of outcasts, free thinkers and characters…also amazing football players. I recommend this book about the 1970’s Raiders called Badasses: The Legend of Snake, Foo, Dr. Death, and John Madden’s Oakland Raiders.
Easy read and great stories. Makes you want to youtube and find all of the games you can find of that era’s Raiders.
The NFL would not know what to do with him today. He had a personality…that goes against the game now.
Sadly Mr. Stabler passed in 2015…He is a man I wished I would have had the honor to meet.
New book about Stabler called Snake: The Legendary Life of Ken Stabler
Ken’s autobiography called “Snake” that was published in 1986.