Former quarterback Ken Stabler, who won two national championships with the Alabama Crimson Tide and a Super Bowl with the Oakland Raiders, died at the age of 69 on Wednesday.
Stabler's family announced the news via Facebook:
Raiders owner Mark Davis provided a statement on Stabler's passing:
The Raiders are deeply saddened by the passing of the great Ken Stabler. He was a cherished member of the Raider family and personified what it means to be a Raider. He wore the Silver and Black with Pride and Poise and will continue to live in the hearts of Raider fans everywhere. Our sincerest thoughts and prayers go out to Kenny’s family.
John Madden, Stabler's head coach with the Raiders, also released a statement, per the team:
I was head coach of the Raiders the entire time Kenny was there and he led us to a whole bunch of victories including one in Super Bowl XI. I've often said, If I had one drive to win a game to this day, and I had a quarterback to pick, I would pick Kenny. Snake was a lot cooler that I was. He was a perfect quarterback and a perfect Raider. When you think about the Raiders you think about Ken Stabler. Kenny loved life. It is a sad day for all Raiders.
Ben George of Tide 99.1 provided a short story about Stabler's final season with the Crimson Tide that helped earn him a place in Alabama football lore:
Stabler’s senior season almost never happened. [Bear] Bryant kicked him off the team in April for “non-conformism“ but was allowed back in mid-August after convincing the coach he was worthy of a second chance. He would become the co-captain of that team and earn All-American honors later that fall. The Crimson Tide dropped two games during that 1967 season, but it will still be remembered by Stabler’s infamous ‘Run in the Mud’ against Auburn.
Stabler didn't play much during Alabama's back-to-back national title runs in 1964-65. When he arrived on campus in 1964, NCAA rules prohibited freshmen from playing. It may not have mattered anyway, with some guy named Joe Namath entrenched as the starter.
In 1966, Stabler took over as Alabama's starting quarterback. He racked up 1,353 yards of offense and 12 total touchdowns in leading the team to an 11-0 record and third-place finish in the Associated Press poll.
Stabler graduated to the NFL in 1968 as the Raiders' second-round pick. He didn't play for the team until 1970 and didn't become the full-time starter until 1973, though that didn't stop him from making an impact.
The left-handed quarterback led the NFL in completion percentage and touchdown passes twice and went 12-of-19 with 180 yards and one touchdown in the Raiders' victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI.
Upon retiring in 1984, Stabler had 27,938 passing yards and 194 touchdown passes. He was also a four-time Pro Bowler and named to the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1970s.