“Will HOF Vote Ken Stabler In Saturday?; Answering the Harshest of His Critiques”

 

stabler-madden1
Ken Stabler & John Madden Celebrate a Super Bowl Win

Saturday the Senior Selection Committee of the NFL will vote on whether Raider great Ken Stabler gets into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Even though it’s not life and death that he get in, it’s kind of a vindication for his family and friends and his fans all over for a career and a player that was never properly appreciated by the very sport he was so great in. For many it’s still something that eats at people for the injustice of it all, however big or small in the scheme of things.

A Year of Grief:

I’ll be blunt; last year sucked. Lots of things happened and it was so draining emotionally and physically for a lot of people. It was a very bad year for me personally as well, a year where you just want to live in a cave and not burden anyone. What didn’t help was all of the losses for the Oakland Raiders. Marv Hubbard, Charlie Sumner, Al LoCasale, Art Powell, just to name a few. And last but not least Ken Stabler. It got to be too much. Great people who helped create a dynasty of winning.

The other night a friend of mine called me and asked if I wanted to meet a friend of his. He was in the national media and he saw some of my writing and asked to meet me. Why anyone would want to meet me still blows me away but when they offered steak, all the Guinness and Bass I could drink and talking about sports, well I’m all in.

My history in the medical field with the east coast isn’t a good one, especially with New York Giants fans.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/raider-fans-are-unique-outrage-over-espn-sport-reporter-britt-mchenry-a-2nd-incident-emerges-and-my-own-run-in-with-a-yahoo-reporter/

If you are a friend of mine, yes I will mess with you. I like doing ribs and jokes and sometimes I will go to extreme lengths.   Well this was payback. We met at my friends house. My favorite Michael Franks and Earl Klugh tunes in the background, a cold glass of beer and steaks on the grill; life es bueno. The guy we will call “Matt” started asking questions about me and complimenting me on my work. He then asked me, “by the way, being in the Bay Area, isn’t it kind of ridiculous people think Ken Stabler should be in the hall of fame?” I stopped eating mid fork.

Here is my article on WHY Ken deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2015/09/03/the-wait-will-be-over-5-reasons-why-ken-stabler-will-get-into-the-hall-of-fame-in-2016/

 

I could see my friend trying not to laugh. A wry smile coming over him. I had played a lot of jokes on him over the years and this was a payback. He knew how I felt about Ken and here was someone from the east coast; probably another mainstream media person who is clueless to any sports story west of the Mississippi; asking me a question like that?”

I took a long cold drink of a black and tan and then picked up a glass of good Napa Pinot Noir and said calmly, “yes of course he should be in the HOF”.

I’m half German and half Spanish; two countries that tried to take over the world; so even though I’m not much of a hot head, I also don’t really like to keep quiet about things.   I said lets sit down and go over why you think Ken Shouldn’t be in the Hall Of Fame. He pulled no punches & Neither did I.

Before we start for those who wonder, these are my reasons why Ken isn’t in the HOF yet.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2015/07/23/part-csi-part-breaking-bad-the-real-reasons-why-ken-stabler-is-not-in-the-hall-of-fame/

  1. Sportswriter Set-Up.

Ok this is an east coaster; going below the belt in the first round. What he was talking about was the Bob Padecky story where Bob said that Ken had cocaine planted on his car years ago. Ken vehemently denied it and most felt his friend was the one that did it.  The damage was done though.  Sportswriters around the country banded together saying they’d never vote Ken in the HOF. Paul Zimmerman, or Dr. Z; the draft guru before Mel Kiper Jr.; one of the most powerful voices in football media in the early days of ESPN, said it on air.

I showed him my story and told him that even though Padecky still believes it, he’s told others to tell writers he would have no problem if Ken Stabler got into the HOF.

For those who want to know, here is my article on the incident with Bob Padecky.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2015/07/23/part-csi-part-breaking-bad-the-real-reasons-why-ken-stabler-is-not-in-the-hall-of-fame/

 

  1. Last 4 years; Interceptions:

I love it; the guy knows his stuff. In his last 4 years Stabler had 42 touchdowns and 74 interceptions. He played for a Houston team that was not talented and who played the power I. It was conservative and based pretty much on giving Earl Campbell 40 carries a game. (and people wonder why he is in a wheel chair at times). For the Saints the years before Ken got there, they were 41-106; almost all of those years was with media darling Archie Manning. The Saints were the doormat of the NFL. Ken in his second year lead them to their best record ever.

Ken’s first year in Houston was his second best year as a pro leading the Oiler’s to their best record in their history up to then.  After Ken left Houston, their record the next 5 years (one is strike shortened) was 16-57. These were 2 terrible teams that Ken made much better with his skill, something no sportswriter ever talks about.

  1. Longevity:

Some of his detractors say Ken wasn’t good long enough, which is a crock. Roger Staubach only had 85 wins in his career. Terry Bradshaw 107. Bob Griese only had 92. Ken was 100-50 but his career was too short? Not long enough? Sure didn’t bother committee voters to vote those players in. Don’t let the facts get in the way of a good story.

Ken was the fastest QB to get to 100 wins and in his first 62 games he was an inhuman 50-12 as a starter.   In their first 20 Monday Night Football games the Raiders were 18-1-1; many with Ken as QB. My only question to my east coast friend when asking why Ken isn’t a HOF is why are we even questioning this?  The 1970’s was the greatest era of football and Ken had the most wins as a starter and was the best QB in that era with a Super Bowl win and a league MVP.

Ken remains the ONLY QB in NFL history that lead his team to playing in 5 straight conference championships.   He was probably the greatest 2 minute drill QB in history. I don’t even know why I have to say these things really. Even writing this I’m getting frustrated.  “I was not the best QB of the 1970’s”, stated Pittsburgh Steeler great and HOF QB Terry Bradshaw. “It was Ken Stabler; Ken was better than I was.”

Amends:

As most men do when they get into their twilight years, they patch up differences. Frank Cooney; former San Francisco Examiner writer who covered the Raiders during the glory years, is in charge of presenting Ken’s case to the members of the Senior Selection Committee. He said in 2009 that Ken met with Raiders owner Al Davis.   They buried the hatchet and Al admitted that he was one of the main reasons Ken was not in the HOF. Al’s venom to players like Ken and Marcus Allen; players he felt crossed him; was of legend and was vile and vicious and Al actually spoke against Ken. In the end, it was a good thing they met with all of the bad blood that they had ever since he traded Ken to the Oilers for overrated but strong armed Dan Pastorini.

The last time Al was at the Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony, he was interviewed and admitted that one of his big regrets in life was not doing more to get Raider players in the HOF. Many teams actually hired advertising and PR agencies to promote their players. Al admitted they didn’t do anything and it was a wrong that needed to be righted.

Also to their credit, Ken met with Bob Padecky, the sports writer that to this day feels Ken had him set up. They did make up though when Ken was @ Infineon Raceway in Sonoma when Bob covered the event which Bob wrote about years ago.   In a recent article, Bob has said he also reached out to Frank Cooney and again said to tell the sportswriters that if they want Ken in the HOF that he was all for it.

Two Minute Drill:

For Ken Stabler’s family and friends this week seems like an eternity. I’m so glad though the younger daughters have seen who Ken was and what he meant to so many.  I’m sure they don’t want to build up their hopes up too high. Let’s be honest; the Raiders are the Doc Holiday of pro football and no one ever cries over the bad guy. We don’t need vindication from the NFL HOF to tell us what we already know, but it would be nice.

What fans and loved one’s of Ken’s doesn’t want is charity. We don’t want you to vote Ken in because you feel bad that he’s no longer here. We don’t want sympathy; we want sports justice. Ever since Al Davis was blind sided by the AFL & NFL during the merger, the Raiders have been the pirates of the sports world. As Al Davis, Ron Wolf, John Madden & Ken used to always say; we don’t take what the opponents give us, we take what we want. And what we want is for Ken’s amazing career to finally be rewarded.

As Saturday’s vote is looming, it’s down to the wire. I picture in a video Bill King’s voice booming loud and poetically describing the scene like a piece of art.  Ken is giving us one last two minute drill; a miracle drive against the Patriots in the Playoffs. Picture John Madden losing his mind during a time out, while Ken is looking into the crowd seeing who is actually at the game and viewing what the fans are doing.   The enclosed Oakland Coliseum as loud as a freight train. While others are anxious with stress Ken is the Snake. Cool as ice.

One more Sea of Hands game; another miracle in San Diego with a Holy Roller; one more last second come from behind drive where no one but Raider fans and players gave them a chance. Ken used to say to his teammates, just leave time on the clock and I’ll take care of the rest. Throw deep.

And as the final vote is tallied maybe it’s right that it goes down to the wire; with so many on pins and needles, I believe they will Vote Ken into the HOF. And as we all celebrate with bittersweet laughter and tears, I picture Ken with a sly smile jogging off the field giving us all a wink.   With a southern smile he tells us we had this all along but in reality it doesn’t change any of us or diminish anything that he accomplished, or lessen the relationships that were made.

But in reality the Pro Football Hall of Fame Voters still don’t get it. But we get it in Alabama. We get it in Phoenix Arizona. We get it in Oakland and everywhere else that the average football fan resides. And every peer that he played with or against that is supporting Ken for the highest honor gets it. In reality the HOF pales in comparison to why so many love him and that is something you can never take away.   Ken Stabler; Hall of Famer in the greatest game of all; life.  How innocent were those times; how rich we are to have known them.

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6 thoughts on ““Will HOF Vote Ken Stabler In Saturday?; Answering the Harshest of His Critiques””

  1. Hi Jim
    Im Ken’s partner of the last 16.5 years. Or as he would fondly introduce me; girlfriend, bail bondsman, confidant, hot blooded Italian, best friend and a lot of other adjectives I should not put in print. We met on Super Bowl Sunday XXXIII in Biloxi, MS and just keep on playing until the day he passed with his daughters and I at his side. The loss is excruciating… Im certain the best part of my life has passed and a part of me died with him on July 8, 2015.

    I want to say thanks for some of the most poetic words Ive seen written about OUR beloved Snake. Traveling with him as I did all over the globe I was always amazed that there was a fan on every corner and tons of Pittsburg, Kansas City, Denver and all other NFL fans that would say.. “man I hated the Raiders (because they usually beat their ass) but I LOVE you. Ive seen way too many women slyly try and slip him their phone number under my nose, grown men tear up and one totally smitten fellow who blew him a kiss and then turned blood red as he realized he just blew the Snake a kiss… not too cool.

    I could rant about the HOF injustice for days… but won’t bore anyone with that, you covered it quite well. My personal beef is this is about football… you cannot look at the 70s era and not see the impact Ken made on the game. It is elementary. I think it says something none of us want to believe and that is there is POLITICS and BS everywhere.

    God speed come Saturday and we will celebrate like crazy whether he goes in or not… because he is a much bigger and better man that a football player. It was one of the greatest and hopefully these guys will man up and take care of the business they have ignored for way too long.

    STABLER for HOF2016. Throw Deep Baby!

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  2. I’m very humbled by your kind words. And yes I know who you are. Ken must have been a handful but awful fun to be around. It’s not the same for Oakland fans without him but it’s obviously 1000 times more intense for you. With all of my research into Ken, no player in history was ever judged and scrutinized more than he was on and off the field. He was treated poorly and I’ve always been bitter about it. I do think they will vote him in though and the bittersweet celebrations around the country will have many emotions. Many blessings to you and if you ever need any support with any thing that you are doing please feel free to let me know and I’ll help in any way I can. Many blessings to you and thanks again for your very kind words. I’m so glad you enjoyed the article,
    Jim Jax

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  3. Hi Jim, As an Australian I 1st saw Ken play in a 32mm film of Super Bowl XI several months after the game. We had an exchange teacher from the USA who brought the film out to show us as part of his Phys Ed Program.

    As a 13y.o. in my 1st year of high school I was in awe of the Raiders from that moment on. I loved the way Ken played in that game and over the years have seen some of his legendary games & highlights. I could never understand why he was not in the Hall of Fame compared to other QB’s of the era.

    I was so saddened when I heard of his passing that day. One could only image the speech he would give when entering the Hall of Fame. It would have been one of the Greatest and thought captivating and funniest speeches of all-time. Sadly we are not going to hear that now. When he is elected this weekend it will be a moment happiness for his family and the Raider Nation but also tinged with sadness that he is not here to see it with his family.

    A well written article that reminds me why I follow the Raiders and that more than any other team we are family. Season 2014 I had the chance to put a tick in my bucket list for my 50th Birthday. I trip to the Coliseum to watch the Raiders defeat the 49ers.
    As I sat there in my seat I could feel what all those players from the 60 & 70’s felt the crowd was behind them and it was one big family in the stadium.
    As I looked at the field I could image Ken leading the team down the field on a 2 minute drill with the game on the line cool as a cucumber and thinking that the crowd were getting their moneys worth today.

    When you think of the great games of the 70’s Ken was in all of them. “The Immaculate Reception / Deception”, “The Sea of Hands”,
    “Ghost to the Post”,”The Holy Roller” and the unbelievable comeback against the Saints on a Monday Night in 1979.

    I for one will listening out all weekend to hear his name called out and will find a way to listen to the speech that John Madden gives when they induct him into the Hall of Fame next year.

    To his family I wish you all the best and that vindication will finally happen and “The Snake” will be on his way to Canton at last.

    The Raider Nation will turn out in force to see his induction that is a guarantee.

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    1. Hi Rod; thanks so much for your amazing story. The Raiders of that day caught the imagination of fans world wide. Your story is an amazing one and I’m so glad you shared it. I have a nice following from Australia and the knowledge and eloquence of all of you is amazing. I’m so glad you read this article and commented. Don’t be a stranger and lets hope Saturday’s vote goes the way we hope it will. Jim Jax

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