The Exclusion Of Ken Stabler From The Hall Of Fame Is a Travesty

Bleacher ReportSenior Analyst IJuly 21, 2010

(This article is intended for Raiders fans, but also Patriots fans that are angered because I have ripped the perception of Tom Brady).

As a Raider fan, it irritates me that Ken Stabler has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame. As such, I have aggressively questioned the legitimacy of other quarterbacks currently in the Hall of Fame, or expected to be inducted some day.

Based on precedents set by the Hall, there is no reason that Stabler should continue to be excluded. Considering that the Hall has inducted Bob Griese, Roger Staubach, Dan Fouts, Steve Young, Jim Kelly, Joe Namath, and Dan Marino—there is ZERO reason to exclude Stabler.

It angers me, and for good reason. Stabler belongs in the Hall. The primary arguments against him have been the length of his career and that Jim Plunkett won twice with basically the same team.

Yet, the same people give Fouts the benefit of the doubt—that Fouts would have won the Super Bowl if not for this and if not for that.

Don’t get me wrong, because I don’t have a personal grievance with Fouts. But as long as Stabler continues to be excluded, I must rip Fouts' career with the facts.

We could use the same logic for Stabler as is used for the other quarterbacks. Stabler would have won three Super Bowls (or more) had he remained with the Raiders.

People also say that Stabler was a product of Al Davis. Yet, why weren’t Griese and Marino products of Don Shula? Why wasn’t Young a product of Bill Walsh? Why wasn’t Fouts a product of Don Coryell?  Why wasn't Kelly a product of Marv Levy?

Until Fouts had Coryell, Fouts was mediocre at best. Before Walsh rescued Young from Tampa Bay, Young was a bust of JaMarcus Russell like-proportions (and that is not hyperbole).

The remaining argument against Stabler is that his career was too short. Yet, he played in and won more games than each of the aforementioned quarterbacks except Marino and Kelly, and both of them played primarily when the NFL lengthened the schedule to 16 games per season.

For the purposes of sophistry, I will stipulate that the current quarterbacks in the Hall of Fame are great. By comparison, Stabler is as good or better than the quarterbacks that I named. Thus, Stabler belongs in the Hall of Fame.

What does this have to do with Tom Brady?

Simple. I refuse to acknowledge the “greatness” of a quarterback that I think is a B+ talent. Until Stabler is in the Hall and officially great, I refuse to accept the legitimacy of the Hall of Fame as an arbiter of greatness.

You can’t judge a QB purely from statistics, except whether the team won or lost and what the quarterback meant to the team. Passing yards, touchdowns and the like, all fluctuate over the years due to changing philosophies and league rules. The only constant is whether the team wins.

In the 1970s, 3500 yards by a QB was a great year. Today, 3500 yards is chump change.

In football, I disagree with the idea of having magic numbers to determine the greatness of a player, as is the case with the Baseball and Basketball Halls of Fame. Football is the truest team sport, because the stats are all inter-related—for example, a passing touchdown is related to a receiving touchdown. You can't have one without the other.

Ironically, the most independent stat in football is the field goal. And, at one time in history, FGs were worth more points than touchdowns

The Hall of Fame perplexes me. Much of it doesn’t make sense, because of its contradictions and shifting standards for greatness. 

One contradiction has been for football writers to award MVP trophies, mostly to quarterbacks, under the guise of the award being a "team" award. Then they evaluate a quarterback on individual statistics. 

In football, there really are no individual statistics, especially on offense, but rushing yards and field goals come close.

I prefer to keep my articles straight-forward and informal rather than overwhelm the reader with my research. But I guarantee, like Joe Namath, that if you do mathematical tests for independence, you will find that NO passing statistic is mathematically independent.

The only knock that anyone could (or should) have on Ken Stabler is that he threw too many picks. At the same time, Stabler was the original Brett Favre. Moreover, many of Stabler’s picks came later in his career when his physical ability had eroded.

Nowadays, strength and conditioning (and PEDs) have changed the game. Athletes can play at a high level until their later 30s and sometimes beyond.

For the Hall to continue to exclude Stabler is a travesty to the history of the game. And then they wonder why Raiders fans act like they have a chip on their shoulder. The only crime that the Raiders have ever committed is to be unconventional and win, rather than be conventional and lose.