Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler died Thursday, WPMI reported. Stabler was 69.
A statement released by his family said that the football player had been suffering from colon cancer.
“He passed peacefully surrounded by the people he loved most, including his three daughters and longtime partner, as some of his favorite songs played in the background, such as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and Van Morrison’s ‘Leaves Falling Down.'”
In his NFL career that spanned 15 years, Stabler, who was from Alabama, threw for 27,938 yards, compiling a 96-49-1 record as a starting quarterback. His career with the Raiders lasted from 1970 until 1979. He received the NFL MVP award in 1974 and secured Pro Bowl honors four times.
Stabler played college football at Alabama before he was drafted by the Raiders.
Current Alabama Coach Nick Saban said in a statement, “I think anyone who had the chance to get to know Kenny would appreciate the great person he was and the pride he had for the University of Alabama. I have had the chance to be around some of the best to ever play college and pro football, and Kenny may have been one of the greatest competitors to ever play the game.”
— OAKLAND RAIDERS (@RAIDERS) July 10, 2015
According to NBC Sports, he began his college career as a backup to Joe Namath. He earned the spot as starter for Bear Bryant’s Alabama team in 1966.
Although he was drafted by the Raiders in 1968, he started as a backup to Daryle Lamonica and George Blanda and became a Raiders’ starter in 1973, the same year when he earned the first of his Pro Bowls.
Known as The Snake, he played an empirical role in the Raiders’ triumph in Super Bowl XI. Stabler is also known for creating some special moments that earned him an unforgettable reputation in professional football. One of these was the Holy Roller, the game-winning play by the Raiders against San Diego Chargers, where Stabler fumbled the ball forward toward tight end Dave Casper, who recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown. The Holly Roller led the NFL to alter its regulations regarding forward fumbles.
Another was the Sea of Hands, regarded as the most famous of Stabler’s touchdown passes, where a lob into the end zone was caught by the Raiders’ Clarence Davis in the midst of three Dolphins defenders.
As reported by ESPN, former Raiders Coach John Madden said in a team release, “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 than 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.”
Ted Hendricks, who was Stabler’s Raiders teammate from 1975 to 1979, said he didn’t know about the quarterback’s medical condition.
“That was him. He just wanted to fight it quietly,” Hendricks said. “He was such a gentleman. We’re going to miss him. He was always charming, and he was a great a football player.”
Stabler’s family said that the football player’s brain and spinal cord were donated to Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center for research on degenerative brain diseases among athletes.