Ken Stabler: No cooler athlete ever walked the earth. He is missed.

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.

Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

18 thoughts on “Ken Stabler: No cooler athlete ever walked the earth. He is missed.”

  1. Being a Steeler fan- I hated the Raiders of the 70’s-80’s-but I did respect them. They played football like the Steelers did. {I didn’t like or respect the Cowboys, I thought they were a finesse team }… of the Raiders I liked Ken Stabler a lot. He was one of those guys who didn’t necessarily look like a great athlete but a guy who just went out and found a way to beat you. A winner. Also being left-handed like I am made me kind of root for him. Not many great left handed quarterbacks out there. Stabler was also one of the last of the party guys. I don’t think his style would go over well today. In the 70’s the Raiders had a lot of characters -so did football in general. Today they frown on that- especially with a quarterback. Back then if you delivered on Sunday that is all they cared about. A different era for sure.

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    1. I was a Dolphins fan (My Dad Again) growing up but I rooted for anyone against the Cowboys (that’s why I started to like the Steelers) because I saw the Cowboys as the Yankees of football. I noticed Ken Stabler at a young age passing side armed and left handed. …he looked like an average guy on the street but he was tough and one of the most accurate passers I’ve seen… not a strong arm but he would find a way. I remember the characters off of both the Steelers and Raiders. I just finished a couple of books from that era… Badasses and The Last Headbangers… they had some good times back then to say the least….No it would not go over now.

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      1. Did you read the articles Pat Toomey wrote on the 70’s Raiders for ESPN a number of years ago? They are probably still out there if you haven’t. Classic stuff.

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      2. Yes, when I was reading Badasses I surfed and found them and actually saved them to PDF’s so I would have them. It was a lot on John Matuszak and John Madden. Madden seemed like a great coach to play for… He let players be themselves which worked with that team. He had very few rules…mostly win on Sunday.

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      3. Love Madden as a coach. Great coach and great man. His going to see Darryl Stingley in the hospital on a regular basis back tells you all you need to know about what kind of guy he is.

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      4. That was so tragic…I believe he had to call and stop the Patriots plane from leaving Stingley there alone. That was just unbelievable leaving their fallen teammate in the hospital. I agree…the guy is a great human being. After reading those books even opposing players liked and respected him.

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      5. He would have been a great coach to have played for. I know especially early in his career many felt he was just Al Davis’s puppet but I believe that was proven to be a bunch of hogwash. Madden was his own man.

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      6. I agree and it took a man to coach some of the renegades that Davis would pick up… When I typed in renegade it reminded me of my favorite Steeler of all time…Jack Lambert. That guy made use of every inch of his body. I have never seen such an aggressive player.

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      7. Lambert was a madman out there on the football field. A lunatic! Emotional player! What fun it was to have watched him play- and the 70’s Steeler teams. I grew up in a good time and place.

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      8. Yes, you did. You were there to witness history happening. I can’t imagine being in Three Rivers during that time. Even with the Pirates, you had a couple of World Series and some Hall of Fame players. One of my favorite clips is Lambert slamming that Cowboy in the turf because he was taunting the Steelers kicker.

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      9. I never got to see those teams in person but watched every game on television. I was at Three Rivers for hundreds of games- I saw 40 in 1979 when they won their last title- including the playoff game and World Series games. ,,,, Yes Lambert throwing Cliff Harris to the ground for taunting Roy Gerela was a turning point in that game. He didn’t take crap from anyone! What a great draft they had in 1974- Swann- Lambert- Webster and Stallworth 4 future Hall of Famers.


      10. That draft was something else…from what I read Noll wanted Stallworth no matter what and didn’t want to take a chance and lose him…Dallas was ready to draft Swan at 21 when Pittsburg finally submitted their pick for Swann… That could have changed history if Dallas could have picked him. I’m glad Noll was convinced to wait for Stallworth.
        You could feel the excitement through the television watching that 79 team…I just knew they blew it in the World Series when they were down 3-1

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      11. Although I attended the games at Three Rivers- the Pirates losing games 3 and 4 -and being down 3-1.. I remember walking to the car after the Saturday game 4 fiasco and heard on the radio that Jim Rooker was pitching game 5. He had an injury plagued season and when he did pitch it wasnt good but Rooker and Blyleven did the job in game 5 and gave them hope…. I also believe that Chuck Tanner’s mother dying the morning of Game 5 changed everything. It drew the team together- I forget who said it but the feeling was Chuck is going through a difficult time the least we can do is win this series for him… That was a fun bunch of players.

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      12. I was pulling for the Pirates of course because they were all about Pops and Willie was so likable…Unlike Reggie Jackson or someone like him… After all of these years, I forgot about Chuck Tanner’s mom passing away until you wrote that. That was a great team and they got a lot of national attention that season…. and for me…Dave Parker should be in the Hall of Fame.

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      13. In July the Pirates were at one point 7.5 games out of first but for some reason that year I was convinced they were going to win it all. I was just out of high school- working a summer job- and I remember exactly the stop where I was on the road coming home from work when I heard that the Pirates had just traded for Bill Madlock. That was the moment I knew for certain- we just won this thing. Of course there were some bumps in the road on the way but they did make it! .. That was a perfect team for Tanner to manager- veterans who policed themselves. Later on when those guys were gone the problems started- but late 70’s he was the perfect manager for that team.

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      14. I remember that season very well. The Dodgers were terrible after being in the World Series the year before (looking the same this year) and I got to see the Pirates on the Saturday game of the week here a few times. I was thinking to myself how great this team looked. Bill Madlock was a great pure hitter…

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      15. Getting Madlock and Foli at SS were keys. Foli wasn’t spectacular but made the plays you have to make and had his best year at the plate- a great #2 hitter that year…. The Pirates that year were the first team to win a series without having at least a 15 game winner on the staff.

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      16. I didn’t know about the 15 game winner stat… the starting pitcher I remember the most was John Candelaria…


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