Kenny Stabler dies at 69

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Kenny Stabler, the great Oakland Raiders quarterback known for his exciting style of play on the field and his colorful personality off the field, has died at the age of 69.

“We announce with great sadness that our father, Ken Stabler, passed away Wednesday, July 8 as a result of complications associated with colon cancer,” Stabler’s family said in a statement.

Known as The Snake, Stabler was voted NFL MVP in 1974 and led the Raiders to a victory in Super Bowl XI. But even more than those achievements, Stabler is remembered for some of the great moments that made him a truly unique figure in professional football history: The Holy Roller, in which Stabler fumbled the ball forward toward teammate Dave Casper, who recovered it in the end zone for a game-winning touchdown, was a chaotic play that caused the NFL to change its rules about forward fumbles. And the Sea of Hands was the most famous of Stabler’s touchdown passes, a lob into the end zone that Oakland’s Clarence Davis somehow caught in the end zone while surrounded by three Dolphins defenders, winning a playoff game for the Raiders.

After beginning his college career as a backup to Joe Namath, Stabler became the starter for Bear Bryant’s Alabama team in 1966 and led the Crimson Tide to an 11-0 season. He was drafted by the Raiders in 1968 but began his career as a backup to Daryle Lamonica and George Blanda and didn’t become the Raiders’ starter until 1973. That year he made the first of his four Pro Bowls.

Stabler’s bad knees limited him for much of his NFL career, and as he started to wear down with age, he was traded to the Houston Oilers in 1980. After two seasons in Houston, he finished his career in New Orleans, where he played from 1982 to 1984.

Although Stabler has not been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, you can’t tell the story of pro football without including Kenny Stabler.

131 responses to “Kenny Stabler dies at 69

  1. They’re putting him in the HOF posthumously at the next opportunity or I’m burning Canton down.

  2. Stabler was part of some of the most amazing plays in NFL history. SB Champion and belongs in the HOF (better numbers than Broadway Joe). Lived hard, played harder, RIP Snake!

  3. His book “Snake” is essential reading for any football fan.

    Sit down with a case of beer, punch yourself a few times to get some bruises, and enjoy it.

  4. Some of my earliest football memories are of Kenny Stabler and the Raiders. RIP

  5. Kenny Stabler was a terrific NFL QB and an old-school tough SOB.

    As a Steelers fan I had lots of respect for him. He made plays and won games with his team.

    RIP Snake

  6. A really good football player with a colorful career on and off the field. Enjoyed watching him play when the Raiders were good and winning a lot of games. RIP Ken Stabler!!!

  7. The epitome of a player built to win. He was bored without the challenge of a tough game. He will be sorely missed.
    It’s past time for the HOF to get off their butt’s and put him in it!

  8. For a brief moment there i thought he made one more miracle comeback for a win…..sad to hear of the loss.

    One of the greatest Raiders ever. RIP Snake….Sorry Canton feels there are to many Raiders in it. You , along with Jack, Jim P and his two rings, and Cliff all deserve to be there.

  9. Sad to hear, one of the greats when I was a kid just starting to follow the NFL. Sad loss, RIP Snake.

  10. One of the greatest Raiders and one of the greatest players in the NFL period. RIP Snake.

  11. He’s the first great quarterback from my childhood to pass. For years, the big four were Snake, Staubach, Bradshaw and Tarkenton. I wasn’t a Raiders fan, but Stabler was a joy to watch.

  12. he was fun to watch – one of the few GUNSLINGERS TO PLAY THE GAME:

    Ken Stabler

    Height: 6-3 Weight: 215 Age: 69

    Born: 12/25/1945 Foley , AL

    College: Alabama

    Experience: 15 Seasons

    TD 194
    INT 222
    YDS 27,938
    RTG 75.3

  13. He played for the love of the game…..the way it’s meant to be played. A lot of “stars” in today’s game couldn’t hold his jock.

    RIP Snake. Thanks for the memories.

  14. Can’t believe he’s not in the HOF, it’s a shame he wasn’t inducted while he was alive.

    Ken was one of those players that truly made the game fun to watch. Thanks for the memories.


  15. Always loved the snake, tough, hard living, perfect Raider. Even though he got the benefit of the phantom Ray Hamilton roughing the passer call against my Pats…R.I.P. Snake

  16. He was a Raider through and through. Thank you for help building the Raider mystique. RIP Snake.

    Raider Nation

  17. Stabler was also a key cog in The Ghost to the Post.

    And Stabler’s heroics nearly advanced the Raiders over the Steelers in the game that featured The Immaculate Reception. Just before that astoundingly unlikely play that became the game’s namesake, Stabler had snuck around end to turn a 6-0 Steeler lead into a 7-6 Steeler deficit.

    So if one looks back, Stabler was in nearly all of the games known by legendary NFL nicknames. Oh, and of course, Kenny was also known as “The Snake” – which is pretty cool too.

    R.I.P. Snake

  18. As a Bronco fan since 1969 (I was 8) – let me say this… Much of my hate for the Raiders stems from this great QB and his ability to take what were often sloppy games between the two teams – and seemingly always have the Raiders win in the end.

    He belongs in the HoF


  19. Rest in peace Snake. It is an absolute travesty that Peter King, Dr Z and other HoF voters never allowed you to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

  20. He should have trademarked ‘Gunslinger’ before Madden got all over BFarve.

  21. I agree with these sentiments. Stabler was one of a kind, and always entertaining to watch. He had an intangible quality that can’t be measured by statistics, and was one of the 20 greatest quarterbacks of all time, in my opinion.

    He belongs in the Hall of Fame, and has belonged there for a very long time. I regret that he didn’t live to see his much deserved enshrinement.

    RIP Ken Stabler

  22. Watching my first SB, XI, and becoming a Vikings fan, those were the days in the 70’s with qbs like Stabler. RIP my friend. You, and other players from that era, will always be a part of my childhood.

  23. Condolenses to Raider Nation. Guys like the Snake are the definition of old school NFL.

  24. Sad day for football and Raider Nation

    First great QB I saw growing up and the Snake is missing from the HOF – life ain’t right

  25. Damn.

    Cancer sucks.

    RIP “Snake”

    My condolences to his family and “Raider Nation”

  26. As a long time Dolphin fan I loved to hate him, but I also hated to love him for his style of play. A true throwback to an era where you had to earn whatever you got. Stabler was a fun, fun QB to watch. RIP Kenny.

  27. Wow! Blown away by this news! My favorite Raider of all time! I give you guys a hard time, but it is only because of one troll who you all know that posts on every single Bills thread…..I don’t hate the Raiders. Part of my childhood is gone….. Besides Jack Kemp…. The Snake was my favorite QB growing up. RIP Snake and best regards to Raiders Nation.

  28. I remember as a kid watching “the sea of hands” game against Miami. There was no quit in Kenny Stabler. It’s a crime he is not in the HOF. Ain’t much of a hall without him and his legendary plays.
    R.I.P. SNAKE!

  29. It’s a sad day for this lifelong Raider fan who became one for the simple fact that I was the only lefty in a family of righties. That was before I realized exactly how good this guy was. His ability to make plays out of nothing, lead his team of misfits to titles and engineer comebacks was amazing. He looked like he just got out of a halfway house, had ice water in his veins (probably mixed with bourbon!), and rarely disappointed. I was furious the day they traded him for Pastorini and kept tabs on his post-Raider career as much as I could. I wish I could have had a chance to meet him, and I pray for comfort for his family. Rest in peace, Mr Stabler.

  30. Criminally underrated. Holy Roller still gives me nightmares. RIP Snake.

  31. Shula is still crying from that loss in 74, as am I. As I did with the sugar bear Hamilton fake roughing the passer the knocked the fins out of the playoffs. He was the snake and a winner! Signed all Miami Dolphin fans

  32. You also know what sucks….. He should be in the HOF…..but yet they put in Joe Namath…. Namath is the only QB in the HOF that has more INTS than TDs. Guess what? Namath and Stabler have the same stats! I would take Stabler on my team any day of the week over Namath and twice on Sundays….. Both have SB wins. Snake was a better QB.

  33. Stabler, Madden & Biletnikoff. Now thats old school. We will miss you Kenny.

  34. As a left handed kid living in Oakland in the 70’s, the Snake was just “IT!” I stopped liking the Raiders decades ago, but Stabler will always be one of my top three players.

    I’m gonna be depressed all week now.

  35. My father met this guy in a thunderstorm in alabama back in 73′ called for help on the road, waited for help to arrive gave him a hug and wished him all the best. Great guy. RIP kenny!!!!

  36. I’m a Pit fan but always admired The Snake. If not for Pit, the Raiders would have won AT LEAST 1 more Super Bowl in the 70s! Any true fan from that era knows that both The Snake and Cliff Branch were HOF caliber players. I don’t need some sportswriter’s vote to validate that for me. Like always, it’s the Eye Test! Heed Florio’s advice and go get a colonoscopy!! RIP Snake!

  37. As a Bama fan, nothing but love. As a Steelers fan, nothing but respect and thanks for the memories.

    RIP, Snake.

  38. My earliest memories of football were watching Stabler on those Raiders teams. My dad and uncles were huge fans of him. RIP.

  39. I’m a Steelers fan from way back.
    Loved those old Raider – Steeler Matchups.
    Some classic games. And Stabler was one of the reasons those games were so fun to watch.
    I just don’t understand how he is not in the HOF.

    RIP Snake.

  40. Put this man in the HOF, Hall of Fame voters!!! Stick it where the sun don’t shine Zimmerman!!!

    It’s long overdue and very sad he won’t be here to enjoy it.

  41. It is SAD that one of these QB’s is in the HoF and the other is a gunslinger!
    TDS 173
    INT 220
    YDS 27,663
    RTG 65.5

    TD 194
    INT 222
    YDS 27,938
    RTG 75.3

    Namath is the first group of STATS – STABLER was BETTER!

  42. He was my idol, he was why I became a fan. I looked at him like a big brother and Madden like a father. Im in tears as my real dad died of colon cancer a month before my 14th birthday. Tears…….

  43. chuckshontaspads says:
    Jul 9, 2015 8:30 PM

    Always loved the snake, tough, hard living, perfect Raider. Even though he got the benefit of the phantom Ray Hamilton roughing the passer call against my Pats…R.I.P. Snake
    Sugar Bear is still alive. You should stop by and say hello while you still can. He coached for the Raiders while they were in Los Angeles. Ask him about it.

  44. I’m a lifelong Raider fan and Stabler was my all time favorite player. A very sad day. Rest in peace Snake.

  45. Fans of all teams are dropping their regular smack talk to write condolences, tributes and memories.

    And then we have others clicking thumbs down to those comments. Man, what losers.

  46. As an “aged” Steeler fan, it was easy to hate Stabler, but only as a Raider, not personally. He sure knew how to win, and inflicted great pain on us. But, now, sympathy and condolences to the family and friends on the loss of a very outstanding player and person.

  47. RIP to the Snake. How he’s not in the Hall of Fame considering the era he played in and the difference in rules that should be taken into account when evaluating that era of QB is one of the reasons that the Hall of Fame is a joke.

  48. Sad to hear this news. Great player. Love the players from the 70’s, it was footballs golden age.

  49. I’m fortunate to have seen his whole career. The snake was so cool under pressure, and won many big time games for Raider Nation. He will be missed and my prayers go out to the Stabler family. We loved you Kenny

  50. RIP Ken Stabler and my condolences to his family and Raider Nation. One of the best QBs when I was a kid.

  51. What a tremendous loss… and sincere thanks to the non Raider Nation folks fer being very classy..thank you

  52. You can’t tell the story of pro football without including Kenny Stabler. Nice and Classy words Michael David Smith, also the exact reason Ken should be in the HOF. RIP

  53. I agree you cannot talk about NFL history without mentioning Stabler.
    I too am a long time Pittsburgh Steelers fan. All Pittsburgh fans dreaded playing the ” Snake “.
    What many fans forget is despite his bad knees and inability to run
    was his approximately 20- -30 yard scramble against the Steelers that
    gave Oakland a first time and late lead in the AFC semi- final game.
    I believe it was a third down play and took the wind out of Three Rivers Stadium only to become the lost to the most memorable moment on NFL history ” The Immaculate Reception. ”
    I always respected Stabler and I know that all Steeler fans did as well.
    RIP Snake and thank you for the best NFL moments a fan could ever

  54. RIP Snake. He broke my young heart with the “Ghost to the Post” TD pass in ’77, but he was always fun to watch. They don’t make QBs like him anymore, unfortunately.

  55. Who is using the “thumbs down” feature for comments expressing sadness and sympathy at the death of an NFL great??? Get a life, losers!

  56. A travesty that he’ll never be alive to see the Hall of Fame. Absolute shame the men and politics bent on keeping him out.

    You don’t only attach numbers to a guys worth, which is what it’s become. The impact, the style, the attitude, the entertainment- Snake had it all. Put him in Canton

  57. R.I.P. Snake, you were thrilling to watch, and had the heart of a lion. God bless you.

  58. Not HOF worthy, sorry, but one tough SOB.

    Much respect for the man, condolences to his family.

  59. I wore a “Real Men Wear Black” 3 times a week in high school.

    I hope the angels can catch. Miss you #12. Damn it!

  60. RIP Snake
    Condolences to Carolyn and Family.

    He earned his way to the Hall
    Do the right think HOF voters

  61. Still have my #12 helmet from childhood. He was the reason I started watching football and discovered I bled Silver & Black.

    As to those who would go through the trouble of giving thumbs down to 100 different posts on a memorial for such a great player?

    Then I’ll come haunt you mercilessly.

  62. Raiders QB greats are synonymous with #12.
    Before there was Rich Gannon, there was old Kenny Stabler!

    We’ll miss you Kenny!

  63. The HOF should be ashamed of itself for not voting in Kenny Stabler. How can Dawson-1 superbowl, Fouts-no superbowl appearances, Kelly- no superbowl wins. Namath- 1 superbowl win. Tarkenton- no superbowl wins. As Bill King, the raider announcer would say “holy toledo”.

  64. RIP Kenny.

    Any 50-something Seahawk fan probably grew up as a Raider diehard and a Ken Stabler fan. He was everything I wanted to be growing up. Sad day to lose your childhood hero.

  65. Thank you, Kenny, a class act , a great quarterback, and an awesome competitor, your legacy includes being part of the “Great” games played between the Raiders and Steelers in the seventies! May the Good Lord Rest Your Soul!

  66. For those asking why Stabler isn’t in the HOF – it’s because voters like Zimmerman would never allow it – personal grudge – Snake never sucked up to the media – and sportswriters make the votes.

    It is a true reality – and disgrace.

  67. As a Steelers fan growing up in Pittsburgh in the 1970s, I hated, HATED the Raiders. But tremendous respect for them — especially “the Snake.”

    Without question, Ken Stabler belongs in the HOF.

    One by one, the memories of my childhood keep fading away. A sad day.

    RIP, Ken.

  68. He should be in the HOF!!!!! Period! If Dave Casper got in then he should too!!! A Vikings Fan

  69. RIP Snake. NFL Icon from a simpler time definitely gone too soon. Condolences to his family and Raider’s fans everywhere from this Cowboy fan.

  70. I was lucky enough to watch him throughout his entire Raider career. My Raiders would often toy with other teams knowing that Snake would pull out the win at the end as he was a true master of the 2 minute drill.


  71. The leader of the Real Oakland Raiders not the farce of a team over the last 12 years. Thanks for some incredible memories Snake.

  72. As a Pats fan, I certainly was not a Raiders fan. But, those 3 QBs listed were 3 memorable ones and for completely different reasons. Seems the game was more colorful and exciting back in those days. My favorite was Blanda, probably because he also kicked. But, there is no doubt that when you think of the Raiders and their image, the Snake was the man. RIP Kenny, and thanks for the memories!

  73. Ken Stabler is an icon in the NFL world!! Of all the players that deserve to be in the hall that have yet to be voted in Ken is the most deserving!! Football was at it’s best in the early to mid 70’s. Ken was one of the reasons why. The best ever teams in league history was played then. The cowboys, Steelers, Dolphins and Raiders. When either of these teams played one another you new you were in for a treat!!! I remember that Sea of hands game and when Stabler was going down for the sack I started to celebrate my beloved Dolphins victory then in the last possible millisecond he let the ball fly for the comeback win. I cried, actual tears rolling down my little cheeks. I was ten years old then but I remember it well. That was the only game I have ever cried over!!! Ken won that game in his typical fashion!! It was just how he did things on the field and why he is such an icon!! thank you Ken for many memories good or bad!! lol May you rest in peace and my prayers that the angels in heaven have embraced you and taken you to be with God for all eternity!!

  74. Mr. Stabler never got the respect he deserved. I’ll bet he will be elected within two years. If he isn’t, the Hall will lose some of it’s dignity in my eyes.
    There’s no room for Politics in the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame!
    Rest well my friend, your pain and fight is over, you are home.

  75. Mr. Stabler never got the respect he deserved. My respects for the family I’ll bet he will be elected within two years. If he isn’t, the Hall will lose some of it’s dignity in my eyes.
    There should be no room for Politics in the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame!
    Rest well my friend, your pain and fight is over, you are home.

  76. I’m only 26 (Broncos fan) & I’ve heard everything there is to know about “The Snake”. My dad’s favorite player of all time. R.I.P Kenny Stabler.

    I blame the rest of the Raider Nation for my reason of not becoming a Raider fan as a child. What a pathetic fan base with no respect for those around them. (go to a raider game and check it out yourself)

  77. The Snake has succumbed. My 2nd grade teacher was Mrs. Plunkett wife of QB Jim. So I will always be an underlying Raiders fan.

  78. As another Steelers fan, it saddens me to hear that another pillar of
    those glorious years of football has now passed. As a kid, I cheered mightily
    against Kenny Stabler and his team, because they were great foes.
    He was a legendary player who had a hand in some epic battles.
    Stats be damned! Football would be so much the poorer without him.
    One of the greatest competitors, and most colorful personalities to play
    during the golden age of football. Kenny will be missed, but not forgotten.

    Even though he played for a fierce rival, this old Steelers fan
    firmly believes Kenny Stabler belongs amongst the Greats, and
    enshrined in the Hall of Fame

    Thank you for memories that have lasted a lifetime.
    RIP Snake – my condolences also go out to his family.

  79. I am sorry, Kenny.

    I have long been an advocate for your HOF enshrinement and my voice was not heard. May you rest in peace knowing that my resolve has not diminished with your passing.

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