Snubbed: Why Ken Stabler Belongs in the Hall of Fame

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst ISeptember 19, 2009

After reviewing the nominees for the 2010 class of inductees for the NFL Hall of Fame, I was left to wonder about the integrity of the process.

There is really no argument that can justify the exclusion of one of the game's greatest quarterbacks, Ken Stabler.

Instead, the Hall choose to nominate quarterbacks such as former Bengals Ken Anderson and Boomer Esiason, and former Raider Rich Gannon.

Don't get me wrong.  Gannon is one of my all-time favorite players, but the question is: Does Gannon deserve to be nominated, while Stabler was not?

The answer is, no. 

I started to watch, "The Road to Canton" on the NFL Network earlier, but had to turn it off in disgust when the voters claimed that they vote based, not on statistics, but on what that player meant to the game, and they consider whether that player was one of the best at his position in his era.

Frankly, I hate bold face lies.

If that is the truth, Stabler would have been inducted years ago, along with a multitude of other players including Terrell Davis and Ray Guy.

The BS argument against Stabler has been that, well, because Jim Plunkett won two Super Bowls, then that must mean those players are the product of Al Davis.

The inherent illogic with that belief is the fact that both Dan Marino and Dan Fouts were inducted into the Hall of Fame. 

Why wasn't Marino the product of Don Shula, a coach that led the Dolphins to two Super Bowl wins without Marino?  Why wasn't Fouts the product of Don Coryell, who had created high-powered offenses for the St. Louis Cardinals before his job as coach of the Chargers?

Stabler meanwhile, led the Raiders to one of the winningest decades in NFL history, marked by a Super Bowl victory in 1976.

Stabler would orchestrate some of the greatest moments in NFL History as well, such as "The Sea of Hands," "The Ghost to the Post," and of course, "The Holy Roller."

When it comes to lore and meaning to the game, Stabler is comparable to the likes of Joe Montana, John Elway, Brett Favre, Terry Bradshaw, Fran Tarkenton, Warren Moon, Johnny Unitas, and Roger Staubach.

In fact, Stabler was named along with Bradshaw and Staubach as one of the three best quarterbacks of the 1970s.


The Nominees

With that said, nominees like Jerry Rice and Emmit Smith will indubitably be inducted for 2010, which means there will be little room for other receivers or running backs like Tim Brown, Cris Carter, Terrell Davis, and Roger Craig.  In some cases, more than one player from the same position has been inducted in the same year, but that is uncommon.

The Hall typically inducts six people all together, one of whom is inducted by the Senior Committee. 

Just taking a shot in the dark, I would guess that the Class of 2010 will be, Jerry Rice, Emmitt Smith, John Randle, Tom Flores, and Shannon Sharpe.

Rice and Smith need no explanation.

Randle's rushing ability helped shape the new era of defensive-tackle, which would lead to others like Bryant Young, Warren Sapp, and La'Roi Glover, while Randle emerged a few years after Neil Smith, but Randle would ultimately out-perform Smith.  Randle is currently sixth all-time with a 137.5 career sacks.

I added the name of Flores, because I hope that the Hall will eventually give Flores credit for what he did as coach of the Raiders in the 1980s by leading the Raiders to unlikely Super Bowl wins in 1980 and 1983. 

I also believe that many of the defensive players (Greg Townsend, Lyle Alzado, Rod Martin, Lester Hayes, Bill Pickel, Matt Millen, even Jack Squirek) and offensive linemen (Dave Dalby, Henry Lawrence) for the those teams deserve to be recognized in some way, and I think that the induction of the coach would do it.

Sharpe I think will be inducted because of his role with the Super Bowl winning Denver Broncos in 1997 and 1998, and as the go-to receiver for the Super Bowl winning Baltimore Ravens in 2000. 

I say "go-to receiver" because he accounted for most of the significant plays in the passing game under quarterback Trent Dilfer.

Sharpe would also account for the lone Baltimore touchdown (on a 96-yard play) in the 2000-2001 AFC Championship game that is still emblazoned in my mind.