Ken Stabler led the Raiders to victories on the field, but he was also a leader off the field, becoming one of the more iconic members of the franchise.
Born on Christmas Day, 1945, Kenneth Michael Stabler would go on to become one of the more prominent figures in Raiders history. Known affectionately as “Snake,” Ken Stabler would champion the Raiders to a Super Bowl victory, set numerous passing records, and personify what it meant to be a Raiders back in the 1970s.
Stabler was born in Foley, Alabama, and would go on to star for the local Alabama Crimson Tide. Taking over as the starter as a junior, Stabler led his team to an 11-0 record, although they were not awarded the national title. As a senior, he would go 8-2-1, including a 7-3 win over the Auburn Tigers that saw him run 47 yards for the deciding touchdown.
The Oakland Raiders made Stabler a second round pick in 1968, sending him to Spokane to play in the Continental Football League. After sitting out in 1969, he returned to the franchise, making his NFL regular season debut in 1970, and taking over as the starting quarterback for the 1973 NFL season.
It is, as we say, history from there, as Stabler would go on to be one of the more prolific passers in the NFL, making the Pro Bowl four times in the 1970s, and taking home the NFL’s Most Valuable Player Award in 1974. He twice led the NFL in passing touchdowns, and we he was all said and done, he re-wrote the franchise’s record book at quarterback.
Five years after his death, Snake is as loved as ever, and you can still see so many No. 12 jerseys at every home, and away Raiders game. He was eventually inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, but after his death, which is a downright shame.
A member of the NFL’s All-Decade team for the 1970s, Stabler was known for his hard-partying ways, but when he was between the white lines, he was as cool as they come. Later on in life, he did tremendous charitable work for sick and injured children, a testament to the man he was outside of football.
When you look up the word “Raider” in the dictionary, a picture of Snake should be the first thing that you see. He was electrifying on the field, the ultimate teammate, and played the game with the kind of fearlessness and precision that makes him the most beloved quarterback, if not player in the history of the franchise.