Ken Stabler dies after bout with colon cancer

He wore the Silver and Black with pride and poise, and will continue to live in the hearts of Raider fans everywhere.

That was what Raiders owner Mark Davis said as part of a statement the team released following the passing of the most popular and arguably the best quarterback the team ever had, Ken “The Snake” Stabler.

According to a statement from Stabler’s family, the Raider great was diagnosed with colon cancer in February and passed away on Wednesday, surrounded by family and close friends.

The family statement said:

“He was a kind, generous and unselfish man, never turning down an autograph request or an opportunity to help someone in need. A great quarterback, he was an even greater father to his three girls and grandfather to his two ‘grand snakes.'”

Stabler, who was 69, played 15 NFL seasons, 10 with the Raiders, won Super Bowl XI after the 1976 season, and was the 1974 Associated Press NFL MVP. Stabler is the only quarterback in franchise history to win the award.

Hall of Famer and former Raiders coach John Madden said in a statement:

“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.”

Madden continued:

“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.”

Stabler led the Raiders to four straight 10 win seasons and threw 150 touchdowns for the team, 194 in his career. He led Oakland to win Super Bowl XI in the 1976 season, beating the Minnesota Vikings 32-14.

Perhaps the most famous Stabler play Stabler was the Holy Roller, where Stabler intentionally fumbled the football — more like an incomplete shovel pass — towards Raiders running back Pete Banaszak.

Banaszak then batted the ball to the two yard line, where tight end Dave Casper stood with no defenders in the immediate vicinity, moving across the goal line and falling on the football.

Touchdown.

The play, which Chargers fans call “the immaculate deception,” spawned a rule change as well as the term “fumblerooski.”

Stabler’s legacy, though, appears to be more than that. More than football.

Stabler will donate his brain to the Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center to support research for degenerative brain disease in athletes.

To friends and family, Stabler was a kind, loving man. Fun loving, too, even on his deathbed he was listening to his favorite songs, such as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” and Van Morrison’s “Leaves Falling Down,” according to the Raiders’ statement.

His three daughters stayed by his side until his final breath, along with his longtime partner, according to the

An all-time football great, family man, and Raiders legend. Ken Stabler, dead at 69 years old.


Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Oakland Raiders beat writer and member of the Professional Football Writers of America. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of the Oakland Raiders.