Joy, Pride, & a Little HOF Controversy; Everything on Oakland Raiders Ken Stabler:
Saturday it Finally will happen. A long time coming.
Never Forget The Greatness of Ken Stabler & Oakland:
As people wait for Saturdays induction ceremony, watching Friday’s Gold Jacket ceremony was very emotional. I was happy for Ken’s family to be able to have that great moment. He should be remembered in so many ways.
It’s sad that our society doesn’t respect history much anymore, because the greatness of the Raiders and Ken Stabler doesn’t get it’s due. In the greatest era in NFL history, the Raiders had more wins in the 1970’s than any other team. For a 25 year period, the Raiders had the highest winning % NOT only for all NFL teams , but of any team in any professional sport in the U.S. If any New York or Boston team had ever done that they’d have statues for it.
The NFL did a contest with fans voting on NFL.com on who the greatest team in NFL history was. With over 5.2 million fans voting, the 1976 Oakland Raiders were voted the greatest team of all time. And if you ask John Madden and the Raider players, the Raiders 1977 team was actually better. A huge amount of injuries and the Rob Lytle fumble debacle in Denver derailed that.
A frustrating thing for the Raiders that never is brought up, is the huge amount of key injuries the Raiders had during the mid to late 70’s. The Raiders had a hard time getting home field advantage during the regular season with so many key players out. That made them have to go on the road in the post season. If the Raiders were at full strength in many of those seasons, one to two more Super Bowls would have been achieved.
When people say Stabler and the Raiders should have won more championships, to their credit, the Raiders rarely if ever talk about the frustration of all those injuries.
Ken Stabler Mania in Oakland:
During my off season down time, I read many things on Ken Stabler & the 1970’s Raiders. I enjoyed the stories about the crazy book signings Ken would do locally. Most athletes would get hundreds of people to show up and it was a mad house. But when Ken did a book signing, the stores were usually full before he even got there and sell outs of his books were the norm. When the store would run out of books, people would go across the street and get grocery bags so Ken would sign them. Ken would sign peoples hands, their kids heads, or any piece of paper a person could find. Some women would use their back, breasts or any other part to make sure Ken’s signature wasn’t wasted.
People of today really don’t understand the love and passion fans of the East Bay had for Ken and the Raiders in the glory years. The press at times would try to get Ken and other players in trouble by trying to find dirt by asking fans and bar owners about wild partying and the crazy times the players had. That was a mistake. Messing with Ken and the Raiders in the East Bay was akin to messing with someone’s mom.
There will never be a pro sports fan base like the Oakland Raiders of the 1960’s, 1970’s & 80’s. I was just a little kid but even then I got it. Most people of today look up to players as hero’s and that’s great, but for fans back in the day the Raiders and Ken Stabler were more than hero’s; we literally loved them and they were family. We mowed their lawns, and saw them in stores. We went to their restaurants and our parents bought insurance from them. Most lived locally and had to have jobs because they didn’t make a lot back then. They were a part of us. Add the same adoration from the unequaled Alabama Crimson Tide fans and this is one of the most beloved athletes of all time.
A New Controversy:
For LB great Junior Seau, having his daughter Sydney introduce him at the HOF ceremony was of the utmost importance. For the Stabler family, what is important for them is that Ken be honored with the traditional HOF Gold Jacket, and the HOF ring that is given to all HOF members. The NFL HOF states that they no longer would be doing this.
What has come to the attention of the family and others, is that a couple of years ago another rule was changed by the NFL HOF with little to no communication. A Gold Jacket and ring would no longer be given to the family of a HOF player who was deceased, but they would get a large plaque with the shield that would have been on the jacket.
My Communications with the NFL HOF:
People that are close to me know how shy I am (wink wink) so I called the HOF myself.
What bothered me was the callousness we encountered. The worst call was when I was transferred to a long time worker. When I asked if Ken’s family would get a Gold Jacket & ring, her response was “you don’t give jackets to a dead person”. I was shocked. “Well maam you don’t give anything to a dead person; they are gone; but it’s a way that families can remember and celebrate their life”.
We made a total of 6 calls between 3 of us during a 6 week period. All of the people said the same thing; it’s always been that way and it’s not a new policy.
In reality it hasn’t been this way; this is a new policy that started in 2014 from what I’ve been told; in fact I can’t find the new policy anywhere on the internet. The HOF has never been that great with communicating changes and it’s kind of frustrating. Many of us have emailed the HOF and none of us got a reply of any kind.
Even though others like Cliff Branch, Bill King & Jack Tatum deserve to be in the Hall of Fame, I think for fans, they realize that this is the closing of the final chapter of the glory days. Ken Stabler and the Raiders of the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s, get one final time to share memories and relive a time when the sports world was dominated by Silver & Black colors. For fans in Alabama and across the nation this is one final chance to celebrate a favorite son whose spirit is rooted so deeply.
Fans can go back and remember when they were kids, or young parents starting out remembering the amazing times the Alabama and Raiders QB gave them while struggling to survive the tough 1970’s & 80s. People can remember sharing special moments with parents and grandparents whose spirits fill our hearts.
Today when money rules, and teams and players change cities like it’s nothing, people can celebrate a time when all was right with the football world. There was a magical sense in the House of Thrills. A togetherness and an enjoyment shared with people of all races and financial backgrounds. A group of hard working people coming together to show love and support to players who loved and supported them back. And Ken especially was our guy.
Oakland was the island of misfit toys and Ken was the leader on and off the field. And FINALLY; they can’t take this honor to Kenny away. No petty grudges or politics; no financial excuses; no bad referee calls or even the government will tarnish this day.
The rest of the country always told the Raiders and the East Bay, you are just not good enough. (Ask the Warriors recent owners). The media and the rest of the world hated the Raiders; and we loved it. The stories were the same; Ken had no arm, bad knees and partied too much. The chokeland Raiders can’t win the big one. Al Davis signs players that are too old, and who won’t fit in with other teams. The Fans are too rowdy. Separately it made no sense; together it made sense.
In reality Raiders players and fans don’t need sports writers HOF votes to know that Ken was a HOF player all along. They already know that Cliff Branch and Jack Tatum are HOF players & Bill King is a HOF announcer. Trophies, jackets and rings will not change who they are or how they live their lives. It would have been nice, but as long as players, family and fans know the truth, the nonsense of not showing the proper respect to players that made the league great will not hurt anyone at all. It’s the Raider way not to care what others say or do as long as you know who you are.
A Magical Ride:
Thank you to all of the wonderful people of Alabama for sharing this journey. You have a piece of my heart. From Foley to Huntsville, to Tuscaloosa to Birmingham, the kindness & passion that has been shown to me and others is truly humbling. To Drew DeArmond and Ryan Fowler who made the radio waves in Alabama full of everything Ken Stabler, eternal thanks and friendship. Your talent is only equaled by your passion for this great game and I’m so glad to have crossed paths. Keep teaching others to respect the history.
To the Stabler family and loved ones who trusted and entrusted fans. In time you realized that this wasn’t just celebrity hero worship for attention, but a true love for a man that meant so much to everyone. We were proud he was our leader, and you are now Raider royalty.
Thanks to Mike Yokum and other fans who have been so passionate. From petitions to social media posts, every word counted; and still does. Never quit. You all proved that the fans voice still matters.
Thank you to Raider fans for their passion, pride, love and respect. Truly an amazing group that can’t be duplicated. Never change. As a kid and now as an adult; Raider pride for life.
And Finally thank you to all of the Raider fans that are no longer with us. Thank you for instilling the importance of remembering Ken and all of the Raider greats, and thank you for raising good people into the Raider family. You are missed more than anyone knows and we hope you enjoy this moment from up above. Until we meet again.
This has been an amazing journey and I’m so blessed to have been a tiny part of it. I’m appreciative to people from all over the world that were touched by the sharing of Raider fans passion for Ken Stabler and this amazing time in sports history. I’m grateful to you for reading and sharing my articles, listening to my podcasts and radio interviews and inspiring me to get back into the game. Your tolerance and patience with me was unending and I’ll never forget it. At times readers from over 42 countries read my articles on Ken.
Now let everyone party old school. Loud music, lots of food and drink, and a great time without drama, celebrating the Snake. Wherever a Raider fan is, let them feel the spirit of the House of Thrills. And if you get a chance on Saturday night, look up in the sky at the brightest star. If you look closely you’ll see a grey bearded Ken Stabler looking down by the light of the jukebox with a smile a mile wide.
With the Snake going into the HOF, the final chapter of the great Alabama and Oakland QB Ken Stabler; and the Oakland Raider dynasty of the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s will now have a happy ending. And what an amazing story it was.
Times are different now and passion, compassion, loyalty and many other things are in short supply. Class is rarely found. In reality teams will now move, players will leave and times in the NFL and in our society will never be the same again. These things though cannot change or tarnish a magical time in our sports fans lives that was as fun, passionate and fulfilling as any sports fans have ever known thanks to Ken Stabler & the Oakland Raiders. NOTHING can take away those feelings and memories and exciting times we shared with people we loved.
How innocent were those days; how rich we are to have known them.