It was originally reported on Thursday that former NFL quarterback Ken Stabler had passed away. That report has since been retracted as unconfirmed. Below are updates of the news as it breaks as we attempt to understand what is happening here.
Update (7:04 p.m. ET): The individual that first reported Stabler’s death has issues an apology for making a “horrible mistake.” Aaron Suttles of the Tuscaloosa News issued an apology to Stabler’s family upon announcing that a mistake had been made. There is still no confirmation on Stabler’s status.
Update (7:00 p.m. ET): The president of Stabler’s foundation is still reporting that the former NFL quarterback has passed away.
Update (6:51 p.m. ET): KTVU in Northern California is reporting that the Raiders have confirmed Stabler has not passed away.
Update (6:44 p.m. ET): tuscaloosanews.com is backing away from its initial report that Ken Stabler has passed away, instead indicating that said report is “unconfirmed.” How an outlet could make such a mistake is beyond us. We will provide more updates as they become available.
This is a sad day for the Oakland Raiders organization and the entire National Football League. It is being reported that former quarterback Ken Stabler has passed away at the age of 69.
It’s an unexpected loss for a player that defined what the Raiders of the 1970’s were all about—toughness, grittiness and an undying passion for the game.
Stabler first made his name known as the starting quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide under legendary head coach Paul “Bear” Bryant who recruited the quarterback himself in 1964. Stabler sat as a freshman, watching Joe Namath lead the program to the National Title before taking over the reigns the following season. Together with fellow quarterback Steve Sloan, Stabler became encased in Crimson Tide football history by leading the team to the second of back-to-back titles.
He was then drafted in the second round of the 1968 draft by then Oakland Raiders co-owner and general manager Al Davis. From 1973-1979, mainly under the leadership of head coach John Madden, Stabler led the Raiders to a 68-25-1 record and one Super Bowl title. He was named the AFC Player of the Year in 1974 and 1976 and earned NFL MVP honors in 1974.
While Stabler did finish his NFL career with more interceptions than touchdowns, which was common for that era, he was among the most-successful on-field quarterbacks of his time. Despite this, Stabler was never inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame—a fact that remains a travesty to most football historians.
A favorite of Raider Nation, the respect Stabler earned throughout his career and post-NFL life made him one of the most popular players in Northern California history.
In talking to fellow Hall of Fame snub and former Stabler teammate Cliff Branch years back, the respect his teammates had for him was obvious. Branch told me a story of a quarterback that was just one of the guys—someone that would go to bat for his teammates no matter what.
Stabler’s death was unexpected and the circumstances surrounding his passing are not yet known. Still active around the football world and within the Raiders organization, few saw this coming.
Following his football career Stabler was an announcer for CBS Sports and called Alabama games on the radio. Though, he was never far from what was going on with his former team in both Los Angeles and Oakland.
It truly is a sad day.