Ode to The Snake – Kenny Stabler
During his playing days, Ken Stabler was anything but a distant persona. As the quarterback of a Raiders team packed with unorthodox rowdies, Stabler took it upon himself to lead the way both on and off the field.
Many remember him as the shaggy, uncouth face of the NFL’s premier rebel franchise. Chalk it up to poor timing that he has never been granted the respect he deserves as a quarterback.
When football historians lean back and discuss the 1970’s, the conversation will always center around those classic Steelers and Cowboys teams. Terry Bradshaw and Roger Staubach combined to win six Super Bowls in the decade, reason enough for some to treat Stabler as a second-tier passer.
Stabler was the quarterback whose trio of playoff losses to Pittsburgh prevented his team from taking the “next step.” Forgotten is his 1976 AFC Championship thrashing of those same Steelers that ultimately led to Oakland’s first Super Bowl title against Minnesota.
There are those who suggest that Stabler could never beat the Steelers, forgetting that he owned a 5-4 career record against them. Stabler also won his only meeting against Staubach, a 27-23 decision to end his MVP season of 1974.
And by leading his team to five consecutive conference championship games, Stabler set a modern-day record that may never be broken. (Troy Aikman and Donovan McNabb are the only QB’s to reach four straight)
Ken “The Snake” Stabler passed away yesterday at the age of 69, a far better quarterback than many will ever know.