Friday, July 10, 2015

To Absent Friends - Ken Stabler

December 30, 1972 is remembered as one of the greatest days in all of Pittsburgh sports history - The Steelers defeated the Oakland Raiders, 13-7, in an opening round NFL Playoff Game by means of the Bradshaw to Fuqua/Tatum to Harris Immaculate Reception, but that game could have been so much different.  With 1:17 left in the game and the Steelers clinging to a 6-0 lead, Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler ran a broken play bootleg around left end for 30 yards and scored the first touchdown of the game, and gave the Raiders a 7-6 lead and surely put the nail in the coffin for that Steelers season.

Well, we all know how the game ended, but the play that led to the Raiders lead, and the player who made it, will always remain in my mind, and it all came back to me yesterday with the news that Kenny "The Snake" Stabler died at the age of 69, a victim of colon cancer.

Ken Stabler
1945 - 2015

As a member of perhaps the Steelers most bitter rival of the 1970's, Stabler epitomized the Raiders, and he remains very vivid in my mind.  Transport your mind back to those days and think of the Raiders being involved in a close game, perhaps trailing by a score, a cold day, crummy weather, and two minutes to play.  Was there ever a doubt in your mind that Stabler would lead the Raiders up field to win the game?  I may not have liked the Raiders (still don't), but I have nothing but great admiration for Stabler, and it is always a sad feeling when someone like that leaves us.

One quote I read today from his old coach, John Madden, says it all:  "When you think about the Raiders, you think about Ken Stabler."  Indeed.

RIP Kenny Stabler.

No comments:

Post a Comment