Five Oakland Raiders Greats Missing from the Hall of Fame

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4. Ken Stabler

When you think of great Raider quarterbacks, often the first player to come to mind is Ken “the Snake” Stabler.  Stabler, drafted by the Raiders in the 2nd round of the 1968 draft out of Alabama, had been Joe Namath’s successor for the Crimson Tide.  Stabler was in many ways the Namath of the West: a gunslinger with a cocky attitude who “read the playbook by the light of the jukebox” and was known as a playboy ladies man.  Both players led their respective pro teams to one Super Bowl championship – Namath in his famous “guaranteed” win in Super Bowl III, and Stabler against the Vikings in Super Bowl XI.

Joe Namath is a Hall of Famer, and in fact was inducted into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.  Stabler, meanwhile, was a finalist in his first two years of eligibility and once again in 2003 but does not have a bust in Canton.  To add insult to injury, Stabler, statistically, was the better quarterback.  In his career, Stabler passed for more yards, more TD’s and led his team to more victories than Namath.  Stabler completed nearly 60% of his passes, while Namath barely completed 50%.  Namath played in three playoff games in his entire career including Super Bowl III, completing 43% of his passes in the playoffs and throwing 4 picks to 3 TD’s.  Stabler, meanwhile, started 13 playoff games in his career with a record of 7-6, completing nearly 58% of his passes for over 2,600 yards and 19 touchdowns to 13 INT’s.  If you took the names away from these stats and asked someone to choose what career they’d rather, have, most people would rather have Stabler’s.  Stabler was part of some of the most memorable plays in NFL history: the “Sea of Hands,” the “Holy Roller” and the “Ghost to the Post.”  He led 19 fourth-quarter comebacks and 26 game-winning drives in his NFL career, including memorable playoff comebacks against Miami and New England.   He led the Raiders to a 69-26-1 record in the games he started, throwing for over 19,000 yards and 150 TDs in Oakland.  In nearly ever statistical category he is the best quarterback in Raider history, and the only QB not named Plunkett to win a Super Bowl in the Silver and Black.

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Joe Namath hopes to see Aaron Rodgers wear his No. 12 with the NY Jets
Joe Namath hopes to see Aaron Rodgers wear his No. 12 with the NY Jets /

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  • Stabler’s stats measure up well when compared to other contemporaries in Canton, like Roger Staubach (the Snake has substantially more yards and TDs) and Bob Griese.  In fact, there aren’t really a lot of good substantive arguments as to why Stabler is not in the hall of fame. The Raiders put up the best win-loss record of the 1970’s with Stabler at the helm.  He led them to the playoffs virtually every year he was the starter, and led the team to its first Super Bowl title. While arguments for contemporaries like Bradshaw, Staubach and Griese can rightfully point out that they led their teams to multiple titles, there is really no argument for Namath over Stabler other than the fact that Namath was the bigger star.  Namath played in New York, he had a persona, an image, he appeared in commercials and late night talk shows and was biggest star in the sport during his career.  Stabler played in Oakland, and while he had a similar persona and image, did not rise to the same levels of stardom.  However, if you’re writing the history of the NFL, you have to write about the man who threw the winning touchdown on the “Sea of Hands” play or who threw the “Ghost to the Post” to Dave Casper.  Ken Stabler not being in Canton, in 2014, is nothing short of a travesty.