In a night that went as perfect as a last minute Ken Stabler drive, Ken Michael Stabler took his rightful place in the NFL pro football hall of fame. For one last time, Ken Stabler lead everyone on a magical ride that will never be forgotten.
With decades of Raider tradition all around mixed in with a little Southern warmth from the state of Alabama, Canton looked more like Oakland, Ca than the sleepy town that wakes up for a week every year before the NFL season starts.
With several Raiders by their sides and HOF WR Fred Biletnikoff giving support, Ken Stabler’s grandsons unveiled the HOF bust of their beloved grandfather. In one action, all of the emotions that have built up from decades of frustration, anticipation, sadness and hope was released. Tears flowed, and closure began to fill the air slowly like a soft mist on a hot night. All the years of waiting; all the unjust votes and comments came out in a healing moment that hopefully now brings closure to an amazing career by an amazing man.
I have many good friends from around the country who ask me, why was there so much emotion and love for Ken Stabler. I think the answer is easy.
When the Snake saw a fan he didn’t care what color you were. He didn’t care if you were famous or rich. He truly appreciated the adoration that was given him. I think Ken always knew how important he was to the City of Oakland, Alabama and the bay area. That’s why he was so kind to so many. He never judged; never lashed out; he was always good to those that supported him, and shrugged off those that hurt him. Many saw a little of themselves in Ken. Sometimes misunderstood, often doubted, and occasionally misjudged. Ken was an every man and in reality so many people related to the things he went through.
Ken was real. He made mistakes; he failed at times; he was ripped in the media at times; but he ALWAYS dusted himself off and kept coming. He never quit and the harder someone pushed, the harder he pushed back. The Raiders and Ken Stabler smashed people in the mouth and never gave up. That’s why when most teams would have quit, the Raiders usually won due to the never give up attitude of the Snake. Ken was a lot like the fans that supported him. He was a lot like the City of Oakland and the East Bay; always fighting, never quitting.
Why Younger Fans Should Be Excited:
Some younger Raider fans seem to be in a fog at the great adoration for Ken and this amazing era. Let’s face it, we live in a society where history to some is what pokemon go character you caught last night. If it’s old, society seems to not care about it.
If you are a younger fan, look at the extreme excitement that is seen in social media today for the upcoming season. The Raiders were 7-9 last year and some are nearly losing their minds with excitement. Nothing wrong with that especially with all the improvements, but put it into perspective.
Think about going 56-13 in Ken’s first 69 starts. Think of going 18-1-1 on Monday night football. Think of having the highest winning % of ANY professional team in the U.S. of ANY sport for a 25 year stretch. Think of 3 Super Bowls in 7 years and 5 straight AFC Championship games. For almost 3 decades the Raiders and the Cowboys were consistently on top of the NFL ratings for most watched teams on television. Oh and don’t forget having more wins in the greatest NFL decade of all time, the 1970’s. Could you imagine what Ken and the Raiders offense could do with today’s rules? Now you understand OUR excitement. As Raider great Tim Brown said Friday, “When Ken walked into our locker room you saw everyone change. It was like royalty had just come into the room. The Raiders of that time were just that good; people adored him.”
A Leader to the End:
The reason this meant so much to so many is because Ken really was the Raiders leader in every way. He was a leader on the field and off. Players felt he was invincible and looked to him when things got rough. Even after his death he inspired. Raiders greats like George Atkinson, Art Thoms, and George Buehler followed in Ken’s footsteps and decided to donate their brains to the study of CTE and give them to the Concussion Legacy Foundation after they passed away. Truly unselfish acts inspired by the Snake’s selflessness and the encouragement of his partner Kim Bush.
“When you see your teammate deteriorate a lot through the end of his life, to see him go out like that, it brings us together,” Thoms said in a Mercury News article. George Atkinson has complained often of his memory issues. “Ken meant so much to us and we felt we needed to do this.”
The Closest Team in the NFL:
Many of the retired Raider players talked about how close they were to each other. Many stated how no team was as tight as they were. Even after retiring, they would meet for dinner often and even if players were out of state, they would fly back to join their fellow teammates. It was important to them to stay in touch with an incredible time that gave them so much enjoyment.
We have many older patients and one is Mr. & Mrs. C who live deep in the wine country (I wont give their name for health privacy reasons.) They used to be a Raiders season ticket holders in the 60’s and 70’s. I visited them recently.
Mrs. C is the classic sweet nurturing elderly woman who still feels a good meal will solve any problem. Mr. C was a successful businessman who’s health is failing. I go to their house so he doesn’t have to go into the office. I also know they enjoy my visits. Mr. C usually holds court with a scotch in his hand while I get my usual pay for a house call. A cold beer with a roast beef or turkey sandwich or the occasional German Chocolate cake and cold glass of milk.
“You know something James, those times were so special and those guys meant the damn world to us. Players like Tom Keating and Art Thoms; Tony Cline, Warren Wells, Charlie Smith, Raymond Chester. Tatum and Atkinson, Skip and Willie. Otto, Beuhler and Dalby; Upshaw and Shell; Sistrunk and Kinlaw; Rod Martin and Vilipiano. Sumner, Wolf, and Al Locasale. So many great men that gave their all to win. And Kenny was everyone’s favorite. No group of players and fans were closer. The minute you forget this son, you won’t be worth a damn as a writer, or as a fan.”
After a pregnant pause, Mr. C showed a moment of rare emotion. Pointing his finger at me he said softly while winking, “Ken in the Hall of Fame? This one means something son; this one means something.”
a person, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.
My father once said that the hardest part about aging is watching people around you; including family, friends, athletes and celebrities; slowly pass away as the years go by. As NFL fans it’s also hard for us to watch the iconic fans of our youth slowly leave us with the passing of time. Another great one has left us in Ron “The General” Rickard. “Raider Ron” was a Hall of Fame fan, and so much more.
We all have a story, and Ron’s was one of fun, determination, struggle, pain and joy. That’s why fans from all over the country have been saddened by his death at the tender age of 54 due to liver failure. He had been battling for over 6 years. He was hoping for a liver transplant but it wasn’t to be. He had contracted Hepatitis C which eventually damaged his liver. Sadly the liver that he long waited for came 12 hours after his passing.
Ron was a cherished member of the exclusive NFL Pro Football Ultimate Fan Association and his brothers and sisters from this group are hurting from his passing.
“Raider Ron’s” story is an amazing one. What made Ron’s story amazing is that he went to 246 straight games for the Raiders; HOME and AWAY! He even got to go to the game in Wembley to keep the streak alive after winning the “One Nation, Your Story” contest.
After his 200th game his friends that he competed with (mostly as a leader) at The Bad Boys of BBQ threw him a tailgate party in his honor. “Kingsford” Kirk Bronsord, the leader of the Bad Boys of BBQ stated in an article from the Raiders website, “I’m proud and honored to be able to say that this is a great friend of mine. He has done something that few people get to do. That’s 12 ½ years of never missing a game”.
Ron said of the streak, “one year I told my wife, you know, I want to go to every game and do it just one time. So I did it and everything went pretty smooth so I did it again the next year.”
After his 246th game in 2014, the Raiders honored him, and Lincoln Kennedy interviewed Ron on the field. He was thrilled to be able to light the Al Davis memorial torch.
Ron’s story doesn’t end there by a long shot. He began to create friendships with Raider fans from all over the country. He also created great friendships with fans of other teams. From Tampa Bay, to San Diego to anywhere there was an NFL stadium, people grew to love Rickard. That love was shown when at times fans would help him financially including getting him tickets and other items to keep the streak alive.
Fast friend and a person I enjoyed talking to; Ron’s Fellow Hall of Fame icon Tim Young; (The Famous Tampa Bay Fan known as “The Captain”) said he once came to a game in Oakland knowing no one. “I walked into the parking lot and I told Ron I was looking for a tailgate to adopt me. Ron quickly took me in and added me to the fold. A long friendship ensued”. (I will be featuring Tim’s story during the season hopefully with an amazing podcast!)
Friendship was important to Ron and people reciprocated that feeling. Ron said in an interview, “70 or 80 people; many of them Raider fans; have even offered to serve as living donors for me”.
Tim said that Ron grew up in Kentucky. He came to California and started a car wash which he later sold.
Ron’s personality was refreshing. Friends described him as blunt and to the point but also compassionate and caring. He had a goofy, fun side and even when he went through hardships he always had a smile to give to whoever needed it.
“He was very smart” Tim exclaimed, “but he never was arrogant and he never name dropped. He was extremely kind and humble. He showed great sportsmanship. Ron and his wife couldn’t have kids but he adored them. He mentored many people showing them the ropes of life, of being a good fan and of being a good person. He did so much for so many”.
Ron and his lovely wife Janet were true soulmates with years of devotion. He was loyal, appreciative, kind and strong. He was given a rotten hand, but he smiled and fought hard with all he had to the end. Ron enjoyed being a Raider fan but most of all he enjoyed just being. He inspired and touched so many, and he put a lot of smiles on a lot of faces.
The Commodores have a song called Heroes and here are some of the lyrics:
Heroes make the sun rise in the mornin’ Heroes make the moon shine bright at night Heroes make our lives a little stronger All our fears go away when he’s around
Whoa, heroes make our lives a little stronger If you look you’ll surely see they’re you and me
I am lucky in life. I had heroes. My mom and dad; my grandparents; uncles and aunts and great friends. Ron was a hero too. Heroes are not some of the popular dysfunctional celebrities who are famous for being famous. They are not boy band members or coaches that make risky play calls. Heroes are every day people living through the ups and downs of life. Heroes are soldiers fighting for our freedom. Heroes are teachers and janitors and wait staff.
A hero loves their family, shows kindness and love to others, and they don’t look down on people. And during their darkest hour they still think of those around them and how they can make things better for them. They are our partners, parents and grandparents who fight a disease with dignity and grace. They are those that give of themselves with no care or desire to worry about what they get in return. They are the ones that inspire others to do good with little to no fanfare. They are us. Ron was one of those heroes. The simplest of things.
The best way to honor Ron is to be that hero. To be the one that leads and encourages and inspires. Live with ethics and grace and be inspired by right and wrong. Be kind when others aren’t, and be level headed and open minded when anger fills the air. In a country that has lost it’s way with violence, anger and a lack of compromise, be a hero like Ron. In this way his legacy will live on. A good General mentors and inspires even after they are gone.
So in remembrance of Ron and in support of his amazing wife Janet, I would love for fans from all over the country to donate to help them financially during this tragic time. Healthcare costs have drained them (sadly) and if everyone donated just a little, they could reach their modest goal quickly.
I would also encourage those to go to his memorial this Saturday. Here is a website with the information, and an RSVP. A celebration tailgate party will include food, drink, music and dancing. I’m sure stories of Ron will be a plenty.
I have and always will support good fans from all of the NFL teams in their causes, hardships and triumphs. We are not gang members. We are people who are part of one team; the human race; who just want a chance to live a good, fun life in peace. Just like Ron, support one another and let’s never forget to live life to the fullest while never taking ourselves too seriously. And as Ron “The General” Rickard taught people; wear your colors proud, but wear your heart prouder.
This article is for the fans of the AFL especially the AFC West. If you are a fan of these great teams, some of these players may be household names to you. It’s so important that the history of the game is respected, and these great players are not forgotten. This article is in honor of them, and the fans that watched the AFL.
San Diego Chargers:
Many think the Chargers uniforms of the 1960’s and 70’s are the greatest ever made and it’s hard to argue with that. I love the powder blue. What also can’t be argued is their dominating win in the AFL Championship game in 1963 sealing their argument as one of the great teams of the AFL era. Their innovative passing game was nixed for a power running game, and it worked to perfection as the Chargers beat the Boston Patriots 51-10.
Sid Gillman may be the greatest football coach of all time. He is the only coach in history that is in both the NFL and College football Hall of Fame. His coaching tree is the greatest of all time bar none. Bill Walsh, Al Davis, Chuck Knoll, Chuck Knox, Dick Vermeil, Don Coryell, Joe Gibbs, John Madden, Tom Flores, George Seifert, Dennis Green, Jon Gruden, Brian Billick and many others fall under his umbrella of greatness.
The vertical passing game of the Raiders was taken straight from him. Al Davis called him the Einstein of the NFL and he is the father of the modern passing game. There will never be another Sid Gillman. As John Madden recently said, “what some teams are just discovering, Sid Gillman was doing in the 60’s”.
San Diego’s version of Fred Biletnikoff was the great Gary Garrison. Lance Alworth gets all of the publicity but in reality the Chargers had another fine Wide Receiver. His nickname was the ghost. Sid Gillman literally called him an artist in regards to his amazing route running skills. One sports writer said it was like watching a figure skater on a football field; his routes were so precise.
He is 5th and 4th all time on the Chargers reception and yards list respectively. He has more receiving yards than Kellen Winslow and Wes Chandler. He averaged an amazing 18.6 yards a catch which is second all time for San Diego pass catchers with over 120 catches.
Paul Lowe & Keith Lincoln:
With Paul Lowe and Keith Lincoln in the backfield, San Diego had one of the greatest 1-2 punches in pro football history. They helped lead the Chargers to their only championship in 1963. Lowe is the 2nd all time leader in rushing yards for the Chargers. He was the 1965 UPI AFL MVP, 2 times AFL All Star, and 2 times All AFL team. He was also voted onto the ALL time AFL team, 2 times comeback player of the year, and he’s the all-time AFL leader in average yards per carry at 4.9. And he still holds the NFL record for 6 straight 100 yard games with 14 or fewer carries.
And oh by the way they had Keith Lincoln. He went to high school in Monrovia California and went to Washington St. Originally he was a QB, and he was so good that he got two awesome nicknames; the Monrovia Meteor and the Moose of the Palouse. He was a 5 time AFL All-Star, 2 time All AFL player, and is in the San Diego Chargers Hall of Fame.
Paul Lowe can still be seen today at the Chargers games. He is a season ticket holder and a fan favorite.
Kansas City Chiefs:
The Chiefs have had an amazing history of talented teams with some of the greatest players to ever play football. Buchanon, Dawson, Taylor, Lanier, Culp, Thomas, Holmes; the list goes on and on. When eclectic head coach Hank Stram allowed NFL films to record him during the Super Bowl, he became the first NFL coach to wear a microphone. Stram was innovative and brought in the triple stack defense to hide his linebackers. When he had several WR’s injured against the Raiders powerful pass rush and great DB’s; he used the T formation and ran 60 times for over 300 yards leading KC to a stunning 24-10 victory over Oakland. In that game, Len Dawson completed 3 passes for 16 yards. In the AFL days they lead the AFL in playoff appearances tied with the Raiders. Hank Stram was as great as the players he coached and boy was he fun.
If you would allow me an exception, I wanted to add a player that didn’t play in the AFL days, but someone who isn’t remembered enough. Just the mention of this players name can still bring a smile and a tear to some ex-players, coaches and fans eyes. He was headed for greatness.
His acts of generosity and kindness are still of legend. So are his acts on the football field. A Raider beat writer once said, “There is fast and then there is Joe Delaney fast”. He was a game breaking type of player who could catch the ball and run like the wind. With a strike shortened season and an eye injury, he only played 1 ½ years but he was amazing. He had 196 yards rushing against Houston and ran for 1121 yards his rookie year while getting the Rookie of the Year Award and making the Pro Bowl.
He once ran 75 yards for a touchdown but it was called back. Two plays later he ran for an 82 yard touchdown. Sadly, while trying to save 3 boys that were drowning, Delaney never got out of the water and died. He could not swim but he could not sit by and watch them die and do nothing. Only 1 of the boys made it. Joe received the US Presidential Citizens Medal from President Reagan and should always be remembered as being a real man, and a person that the NFL and their fans can be proud of.
If you are a big fan of the AFL or a Chiefs fan, you are saying how come Ed’s on this list? Well outside of KC many of today’s fans are clueless to how great of a player Podolak was. His occasional wildness off the field after his playing days gets some publicity at times but in reality Chiefs Running Back Ed Podolak was one heck of a football player. With his hooked bar helmet, he looked like a red bull chasing after people. He could catch, run, return kicks, and block. He was an all purpose back that could do it all.
He is the 5th all-time Chiefs RB in regards to rushing yards, and the 10th leading pass catcher of all time. He was also a quality return man that made many clutch kick returns. His wars against the Raiders and their bulldozer RB Marv Hubbard were must see tv and some of the most physical games ever played.
Nicknamed Thunderfoot, Jerrel Wilson was flat out one of the greatest punters of all time. Often overshadowed in the all time punter conversation due to the greatness of Ray Guy, his booming and towering punts were a thing of beauty. Ray Guy and Wilson transformed the punting game into an offensive weapon in regards to controlling field position.
He was a 3 time pro bowler and on the all AFL team, and in one year avg. 46.1 yards per punt. He also did it in the clutch. To punt when your team isn’t very good or if nothing is at stake is one thing but to do in when it counts is another. His greatness should not be forgotten.
For a 25 year period, the Raiders winning % was far and away better than any professional sports team in the U.S. In their first 20 Monday night football games they were 18-1-1. In the greatest decade of the NFL; the 1970’s; they had the most wins. In the NFL.com fan poll of the greatest teams ever a few years ago, the 1976 Oakland Raiders were voted the greatest team of all time by over 5.5 million NFL fans.
In QB Daryle Lamonica’s first 45 games as a Raider (after a trade from Buffalo) the Raiders were an unreal 40-4-1. His successor; Ken Stabler; was 56-13 in his first 69 games.
For 3 decades 2 teams were almost always on top of the television ratings charts in the NFL. The Cowboys and the Raiders. The 2 teams people loved to hate. For a time the Cowboys were America’s team and the Raiders were the renegades of the NFL with talent to back it up. Those days seem light years away. They moved to Los Angeles which slowly eroded their tough blue collar Oakland persona, and the violence at games along with the small crowds, eroded their mystique. Their style of play changed and they’ve never been the same. It’s sad because few teams in the NFL boast a higher level of talent in their great history. No team in history was more crazy, wild, talented, and colorful as the Oakland Raiders.
(below is the article on the 1976 Raiders chosen as the greatest NFL team of all time)
(please support and follow the AFL Godfather on twitter @NFLMAVERICK I got this video from his public page but I’d really appreciate if you’d support him. He has great stuff from the past! Thank you!)
“The greatest player I ever coached was Warren Wells. I never saw anyone that gifted and that fast”.
Former Raiders Head Coach John Madden
On December 6, 1970, Warren Wells made an unreal catch on the last field play of the game to beat the Jets 14-13. His catch against 2 Jet defenders would make Houdini applaud. Wells was that good.
This is still one of Ronnie Lott’s favorite all-time players. If you talk to any player of the 1960’s, the one player that always amazed them was Warren Wells. For a 3 ½ year period, he struck terror in the eyes of all teams. He unfortunately was one of only 2 NFL players who were drafted and made to go to the Vietnam war in 1965.
He was as fast as lightning and just as gifted. Before the NFL changed the statistic criteria, Warren Wells was the all time leader in yards per catch at an inhuman 23.3 yards a reception. In one year he caught 47 balls for an incredible 27 yards per reception. He and Daryle Lamonica; The Mad Bomber; were the originators of Al Davis’ feared vertical game.
Due to off the field issues and an ankle injury, Wells career was cut short. He straightened up his life after doing prison time during his younger days, and last year was honored by lighting the Al Davis torch at one of the Raiders home games.
He was the anchor of the famous “11 Angry Men” Oakland Raiders defense and was a key player of the 1960’s and 1970’s. Tom Keating was one of the best defensive linemen in AFL history. He was a 2 time AFL all star and on the all time AFL 2nd team member. He played so hard that a story was written about him when the Raiders played the Packers in Super Bowl II. He was a part of the famous 1967 Raiders defense that caused a record 667 yards in losses on 67 sacks. They remain one of the greatest and most unheralded defenses of all time.
He was talented and tough. Off the field he was a fan favorite and very happy go lucky. He was a bay area guy and lived and died here. Many feel that if he didn’t have such bad knees that he was a hall of famer for sure.
There are many that feel Dave Grayson is a Hall of Famer. Dave played for Oakland between 1965-1970. He played for the Dallas Texans/Chiefs before that, and was originally signed by the Dallas Cowboys. Grayson was an undrafted free agent out of the University of Oregon. Tom Landry felt he was too small and not physical enough so he was let got and Hank Stram gave him a shot and he stuck.
Al Davis Traded for CB Dave Grayson in 1965 (he traded him for future actor Fred “The Hammer” Williamson) from the Chiefs and then traded for Willie Brown from Denver in 1967. This allowed the Raiders to play the physical bump and run style that has been a trademark of the team for years.
When NFL and former Cowboys personnel guru Gil Brandt was asked who were the 4 best cornerbacks in Dallas history his first 3 were not a shock. Mel Renfro, Herb Adderly & Deion Sanders. “I also include Dave Grayson. He didn’t play with the Cowboys but he’s so good I’m including him.”
A little known fact that may buy you a drink someday if you are a Denver fan is that many of the AFL teams didn’t have much money to start with. The Broncos first uniforms were actually mustard yellow and brown. Why was that you say? The reason they were that color is that the Broncos wanted to save money so they bought the used uniforms off of the University of Wyoming football team and used them for a year. It saved them thousands of dollars. Wyoming were upgrading their uniforms so they were available. They then got a designer to make a new uniform the following season.
One of the many crazy and memorable stories of the AFL is the one about Bronco great Frank Tribucka. Tribucka was the father of Notre Dame and NBA player Kelly Tribucka. Frank was a Notre Dame legend. At 33 years old he had played for several teams in the NFL, Canada, and AFL and he came to the expansion Broncos to be a coach after retiring. During the last pre-season game they asked him to play to sell a few tickets. He then started the next week as the Broncos QB and played for the next 3 years.
In his first year he threw for 34 interceptions (still a Denver Bronco’s record) but also became the first QB in NFL or AFL history to throw for over 3,000 yards in a season. Against the Bills he threw for over 447 yards in a game; a Bronco record that stood for over 38 years. Frank had a great personality and was very popular and will always be a part of the AFL lore.
Goose was as tough as nails. In a day and age where the game was so physical, he played in an amazing 61 straight games for the Broncos. He is third all time in the AFL for interceptions with 43 and has the AFL record for most interceptions in a game with 4. Gonsoulin is also still 2nd all time in Denver Broncos history in interceptions only 1 behind leader Steve Foley. He was a 6 time AFL all star and was voted on the AFL’s all time 2nd team.
In his first 6 years with Denver, he had an amazing 43 interceptions, 542 return yards with 2 brought back for touchdowns. A fun loving, true great of the AFL era.
Rich “Tombstone” Jackson:
Another guy that doesn’t get his due is Rich Tombstone Jackson. He was the first real great pass rusher in Denver history. He was very physical and Lyle Alzado of all people called him the toughest man he ever met. Just another of the all time great players that never got his due. He was way before his time and mastered the head slap and many other moves to the dismay of the NFL.
He was a 2x AFL All Star, 2x AFL All Pro and voted second team on the all time AFL team. As with many players of his day before modern knee surgeries, he tore his knee and had to retire early from football. Many believe he was the best pass rusher of that era and that without injury he was heading into the NFL Hall of Fame. While Deacon Jones got all of the publicity, Jackson quietly tormented opponents. It’s sad he’s never mentioned more.
With so many people lacking any knowledge of the past in our social media mentality of today, it’s important for all of us to remember the great players of yesteryear. These are players from the AFC West but obviously the AFL had amazing teams and athletes from New York and Buffalo to San Diego. My father talked to me often about the greatness of the AFL. From the Titans and Texans, to the Bills and Raiders, AFL lore has so many amazing players and stories. I hope that we never forget the greatness of the AFL and more and more groups are created to discuss such amazing memories that we enjoyed with our parents and grandparents.
On a warm summer day in Canton, Ohio after the enshrinement ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Oakland Raider owner Al Davis was doing one of his last interviews in public. Looking fragile and using a walker, Mr. Davis was talking to an ESPN reporter when Jerry Jones walked by to say hi and tell people how great Al is. It was obvious that both men could see that time was not an ally of Mr. Davis and they talked accordingly.
“If I have any regrets in life, one of them is not doing enough to get the great Raiders of the past into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We had so many good ones and that has to be fixed. We need to do a better job.”
Let’s face it. Every team has a long list of players that fans want in the Hall of Fame. I think I was reading yesterday that Denver only has 4 players in the HOF. That’s amazing.
I’ve always had the ability to be unbiased about things. Whether it’s politics or sports teams or anything. I’ll be honest about it and be secure in the answer. Let’s face it though; most are very biased and they see what they want. I need to be objective when I look at things to have integrity.
So without further ado, lets do an unbiased look at Raiders that may or may not make the NFL HOF. Let’s first look at the coach and the offense today. Tomorrow we will look at defense.
“If Bill King was in New York, Chicago, or Boston, they would have a statue built of him already”.
Gary Radnich, KNBR Radio
(Please Click on watch on You Tube to watch the above video)
Above is Bill King’s amazingly funny call of the Holy Roller. One of the great calls of all time. I’m going to write an article on Bill King in the future but he really deserves to be in at least 2 Hall of Fames; NBA and NFL. Another west coast snub. Some east coast sports writers don’t even know who he is. NFL films icon Steve Sabol said Bill was his favorite announcer.
Deserves to be in the HOF: YES; A huge one!
Will be Voted into HOF: Doubtful; absolute outrage.
The Raiders didn’t need the Rooney rule. If Al Davis thought you could do the job, he’d hire you. That’s what he felt when he hired Tom Flores to be his head coach.
Tom Flores was a branch off the amazing Sid Gillman coaching tree which is huge and included Al Davis. He won a Championship as an assistant, player (backup to Len Dawson’s 1969 KC Chiefs team) and a coach.
In 12 years of coaching he had 6 winning seasons and 2 Super Bowl wins and was 97-87. He also was 8-3 in post season. A huge issue with voters is in his last 5 years of coaching the Raiders and the Seahawks, he was only 27-52.
This is a tough one and I think the east coast media bias again is hugely an issue. Weeb Ewbank who was a good coach is 1 game over .500 but is in the HOF. He did win 130 games though. Where was his biggest coaching stint? NY Jets and NY players always have an edge with the east coast media.
I’m on the fence to be honest. Tom Flores doesn’t have a lot of wins and he really didn’t do well the last part of his career, but his post season record is stellar. Tough one.
Deserves to be in the HOF: Still Deciding
Will be Voted into HOF: 50/50; maybe
One of the great deep threats of all time. One of the few players that didn’t lose speed with age. Kenny Stabler said in one interview, “We were great. I had a great offensive line, great running backs and receivers. I mean Cliff Branch could out run half the cars in the parking lot.”
John Madden would laugh and say, “Cliff in the early years would tell me during the 3rd quarter to throw to him because he could beat his guy. In about his 6th year we’d be warming up and he’d tell me that Ken needed to throw to him because he knew he could beat his guy. I’d laugh and say Cliff you don’t even know who your guy is yet!”.
When Washington’s Daryl Green hit Cliff in the first Raider play in the Super Bowl to try and intimidate him, Branch smiled and shook his finger back and forth in front of his face. No one could intimidate him or the Raiders.
He has so many clutch catches in big games you can’t count them. His catch and long run for a touchdown in the Sea of Hands game helped turn the game around. It’s almost embarrassing having to prove he belongs in the HOF.
Deserves to be in the HOF: YES, YES, YES
Will be Voted into HOF: Eventually
In a genius move, Al Davis drafted Bo Jackson in the 7th round the year after Bo refused to play for Tampa Bay. He told Bo he could play two sports, something the rest of the league refused to do. Bo Played only 4 years. He never ran for 1000 yards and ended his career with only 2782 yards after a hip injury shortened his career. Although a streaking comet, there isn’t a chance he’s a HOF player.
Deserves to be in the HOF: No Way
Will be Voted into HOF: Not a chance
If you ask someone does Jim Plunkett deserve to be in the HOF and most will say sure, he won two Super Bowls. But lets look at the facts.
Jim Plunkett was NEVER named as an All Pro. He NEVER made a pro bowl and was NEVER considered any where near the best quarterback of his era. In contrast Ken Stabler was voted to the all decade team, was all pro several times, was an MVP and even his competitors say he’s the best QB of that era.
As a starting QB he was only 72-72. He has only 164 touchdowns and 198 interceptions. His lifetime passing % was only 52%. Some like to compare him to Joe Namath and some of the numbers are nearly equal but there are others that aren’t close. Namath was an all pro; 4 time AFL all star; two times Player of the Year; two time MVP and also on the AFL all time team.
Plunkett threw for over 2600 yards in his career only one time and never threw for over 3000 yards. Namath threw for over 2600 yards 6 times; twice throwing for over 3000 yards and once for over 4000 yards which was unheard of at the time.
In the two Super Bowl wins that Jim played in, the defense in 8 quarters allowed only 19 points. Against the Eagles he won the MVP and even he’s admitted Rod Martin; who had the greatest defensive Super Bowl of all time with 3 interceptions; should have been MVP. Plunkett completed only 13 passes for 261 yards with 80 of those yards coming on a short pass and long run by Kenny King. Against Washington, the defense, offensive line and Marcus Allen were the kings of that game. He completed 16 passes for 172 yards in that game. Saying Jim Plunkett won these games isn’t true.
People also forget that he played musical chairs as a starter with Mark Wilson. Both could not hold onto the job sometimes due to injuries and sometimes bad play.
There isn’t a better story than the Plunkett family story and wow is he a great guy. I really like him but he’s not a HOF player in my eyes. You can’t vote someone into the HOF as one of the all time greats when he is not even considered that great in his own era. No pro bowls but a hall of fame? Doesn’t make sense.
Deserves to be in the HOF: No
Will be Voted into HOF: Maybe
Todd Christensen was a son of a scholar and he was extremely smart. Some felt he was arrogant but in reality he was a good guy that just came off as such. Most NFL players didn’t talk like a scholar so he turned people off. It’s sad he’s not remembered more. He died tragically 2 years ago @ the age of 57.
He twice lead the league in catches. In his best year he caught 95 passes for 1153 yards. For a 4 year span he caught 349 catches which at that time was an NFL record. He was the first TE to ever catch 90 passes in 2 consecutive years. Although he may not have played long enough to be a HOF player, he was an excellent Raider and one of the best in the NFL for a 5 year span. RIP.
Deserves to be in the HOF: Maybe
Will be Voted into HOF: Long shot
When you replace a legend like Center Jim Otto, you better be good; Dave Dalby was.
Last year ESPN had a round table talking about who belonged in the Hall of Fame. Two names kept coming up; Jack Tatum and Cliff Branch. Surprisingly another name that came up was Dave Dalby. Tom Jackson especially praised Dalby and said he felt he was a hall of famer.
If you ask Raider players and the fans that he was around, there wasn’t a kinder person. If you are a person of faith, Dave’s story is pretty amazing and you can read below.
He played 14 years without missing a game. He was all pro 1 time and has 3 Super Bowl rings; one as a backup and 2 as a starter. He was the glue of the offensive line of the Raiders after Otto left. Hard to find a more solid center in that period of time.
He died in 2002. He was only 51 and some said he spiraled out of control. Many now feel CTE was partially to blame. He had become addicted to alcohol and struggled a lot after his career. His alcohol level was .15 when he floored his van into a tree. A truly sad ending for a kind Raider who always was willing to help others. I see memories from Raider fans and players online even today. He’s very missed. RIP Dave. And I really mean that.
Deserves to be in the HOF: Maybe
Will be Voted into HOF: Longshot
If there was ever a guy that was born in the wrong decade, it was the “Wiz”. Wisniewski was a rugged player who most considered dirty. He would have fit right into the Raiders of old.
He was an 8 time pro bowler and voted to the 1990’s all decade team. The problem isn’t really with Steve it’s with the era. The Raiders had some lean years during his time and he also played during an era where there were many all time great guards who played. Steve also had a bad reputation for his dirty play which will take a little time to get over. It took a long time for him to even be nominated but I think he’s a HOF player.
For Raider, Alabama, and NFL fans that have been crying out for Ken Stabler to be elected into the NFL Hall of Fame, their prayers were answered Saturday night. The NFL announced that Ken Stabler along with Brett Favre, Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Kevin Greene, Dick Stanfel and controversial former San Francisco 49er owner Eddie DeBartolo had been newly elected into the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame.
My Twitter timeline was blowing up for joy but also with anger due to the huge slight all these years. No negative feeling should diminish the joy everyone feels but it is frustrating. In the annals of life it may not be that big a deal, but in the world of sports it was a miscarriage of justice to say the least and we need to call people out for it.
I thought of John Madden and the Raider players who loved him so much. I thought of older fans who saw him play and those that are no longer here. I thought of his daughter Kendra who knew of her dad’s talent and carried the torch for him for so long. I thought of daughters Marissa and Alexa who must have been awestruck by the devotion and love shown to their dad, and are just learning how great he was on the field. I thought also of his grandkids who he adored. I thought of his sister Carolyn who also has been nothing but gracious and kind through out the years. His nephews, friends, and other family members also have a huge void in their lives.
I thought of Alabama fans and friends of Ken’s that had also fought for him to be recognized. Their devotion is equal to that of Oakland.
And last but not least, I thought of his partner of almost 16 years Kim Ross, who bravely supported him while he quietly battled the side effects of CTE. While we saw the glorified side, she saw the fight that is seen behind the scenes when the crowds no longer cheer and the player walks away. A fight that no longer should be fought alone.
As I announced Ken’s induction to my happy followers, I also thought of all of the people over the years that had fought for Ken’s being in the hall of fame. The people with websites and social media pages. Everyday people who cared so much. People in the media and sportswriters. The NFL players of present and past who had constantly said how Ken deserved to be a part of this group. Many emotions stirred up inside me. Some amazing and some not so pleasant.
The Reality of It All:
If a voting writer thinks that a player does not belong in the HOF due to their play on the field, then they should not vote them in. Believe me I get it; not everyone belongs in the NFL Hall of Fame. But I also get that the grudges and unprofessionalism of NFL HOF voters has to be addressed and called out. We should not give sportswriters/voters a pass when the players they unjustly keep out for biased reasons finally get in. Instead they need to be held accountable.
What Does This Vote Prove?:
Sites that try to hire me (boy are they dumb) and readers always ask me why I write as an independent. The pure reason is so I won’t be censored or edited. My goal in life isn’t to be famous or known, it’s to call out injustices and to tell the truth. Most write what their readers want to hear to be popular and get viewers, and they try to kiss up to teams and the NFL. My readers know that I write because I want to inform them and give people an idea of what is going on; good or bad. I go after the smart reader, and as many of them know, most corporations and governments are not big fans of the truth sometimes.
In saying that, what this vote proves is one thing; Ken Stabler and everyone near him got cheated. I’m not going to rehash old articles or quotes; if you want to find out check out my past writings; but in reality this was just wrong.
Just Saturday, Terrell Owens found this out as well. Even though he has some of the best WR credentials in years, he did not make the HOF. I still remember how crappy he treated writers and other people and how he arrogantly looked his nose down on them; payback is a beatch; ask Barry Bonds.
I don’t like Terrell Owens antics either. In reality though if I was a voter my OPINION on how he treated people should not play into the equation. Even though Owens is a different type of situation than Stabler’s, isn’t this an honor for what people do on the field? On the field he was a HOF player whether I like him or not. For God’s sake OJ Simpson is still in.
Look at the self righteous Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. When MLB saw the money in daily fantasy leagues, they pimped themselves out quicker than a Kardashian in front of a camera. You couldn’t go a minute without commercials about Draft Kings. Unless of course it was their announcement that they would not put Pete Rose into the Hall of Fame because of his ties with gambling. I mean this stuff writes itself! Hypocrisy knows no bounds when it comes to major sports leagues.
Or what about Howard Cosell who is shockingly not in the HOF. Frank DeFord, Al Michaels, and so many of the great sports media figures of our time say Howard Cosell may be the most important NFL announcer of all time. That doesn’t count his huge contributions to boxing, baseball, and every other sport he was involved with. He WAS Monday Night Football. He even told the nation when John Lennon was shot and killed. He told it like it is whether it was fun or not. He said something.
Howard Cosell though had a big mouth and the NFL didn’t like it. He spoke for players issues at times. He also talked about how someday networks would only want athletes as announcers because they would be loyal to the networks and the NFL product. He called it “jockocracy”; the dumbing down of announcers. He was right.
He also was a witness in the lawsuit by the USFL against the NFL years ago. Again he told the truth. In 2010 Sports Illustrated listed the reasons why Cosell had indeed been black listed from the NFL HOF. None of the writers will admit it; but no way is Howard getting in which is a joke. This is why it’s so scary. The NFL is so powerful that they control the networks and many of the sportswriters/voters know that to get along you go along.
Bill Simmons; one of the most powerful media people at ESPN (some had him getting $5 million per year) created Grantland; the greatest ESPN publication of all time. Simmons spoke out against Roger Goodell calling him and the NFL liars in the Ray Rice situation. The NFL was furious and let ESPN know it. Even though he was proven right, he was suspended for 3 weeks. This was at the same time when self absorbed ESPN reporter Britt McHenry berated a woman at a towing yard so viciously that it went viral. She was suspended a week. So in ESPN and the NFL world, bullying someone and abusing someone verbally while embarrassing the product is far less a mistake than telling the truth.
Simmons was eventually fired and Grantland was in time, terminated. McHenry still has her job, business as usual. Don’t mess with the NFL.
HOF Voters Biased:
I just saw a 1970’s Sports Illustrated archive on Google books with an interview of Paul Zimmerman or Dr. Z. He was the ESPN NFL guru before Mel Kiper Jr. He was a voting member of the NFL HOF and eventually the senior committee. He admitted in print that for the only time in his career he lobbied AGAINST a player at one of their player voting meetings. That player was Ken Stabler. At that time Zimmerman held a lot of pull and he vowed, “I’ll never vote Stabler into the HOF”. He believed the Bob Padecky story.
The grudge against Stabler was so bad, even Bob Padecky; who still believes the Snake set him up; last week told Frank Cooney; Ken Stabler’s HOF advocate and selector of the NFL HOF Senior Selection Committee; to tell the other writers that if they think the Snake should be in the HOF that it would be alright with him if they voted him in. Remember this occurrence happened over 35 years ago, and Ken didn’t do it!!!
What needs to happen is that voters need to vote based on their on-field performance and not on petty grudges, invisible or real. If they don’t, they need to be called out on it by players, fans, and the media. They need to be held accountable.
Even with the travesty that has occurred, the parties for Ken Stabler’s induction will be long and hard. I can’t wait to see John Madden and the family, friends, and fans of Ken enjoying their day in the sun. In the back of our minds after it is over and the parties stop, lets not forget the voters all these years that cheated Ken and everyone associated with him into sharing this day with him. Remember that when future Raiders come up for a vote every year, to make sure you contact the voting writers directly to show your support of these great players. We can be lazy and complain, or get involved and make sure that their families, friends and fans don’t have to go through what Ken’s did.
Oakland Raider fans are different. They are real. There are white collar and blue collar; black, brown and white; rich and poor with all parts of society represented. The Oakland Raiders are not a team to Oakland fans; they are our family. Other fans look at players like hero’s, but to us Ken was a friend and family member who gave us countless thrills and the adoration we had for him was given back by his kindness and appreciation. He was the key to an innocent and amazing era that created the foundation of a then football dynasty. He and all of the Raiders meant so much to so many.
So when the likes of Cliff Branch, Tom Flores or other players come up for selection into the NFL HOF, let’s not forget the joy they brought to us. And most importantly lets not forget the tolls their play has taken on their bodies. Let’s support and fight for retired players rights, and the health of all present and past players. Let’s also pressure the NFL and HOF to step up to the plate and do all they can to make sure these men live as healthy of lives as possible. And best of all; see you in Canton!
Has their ever been a fan base that has gone through more stress than Oakland Fans? All those years of loyalty and now the Warriors are going. Are the Raiders staying; are the A’s staying; no fan base is more beat up. I hope for their sake that things get worked out for the A’s and Raiders. Oakland is a special place and they deserve much more than they are getting.
Fans and writers now get it. It would be nice if Mark Davis would now hire Carmen Policy and Disney CEO Bob Iger to help with a stadium in Oakland but don’t count on it. He’s going to do nothing and make the City of Oakland figure it out. If he put the same amount of effort, time and money into Oakland that he did into Carson then this could be worked out much faster, but it is what it is. In his defense the City of Oakland has had 2 bad mayors before Libby Schaaf and that didn’t help either but his words and his actions have never been the same.
The reality is it’s up to the City of Oakland and Mayor Schaaf to get this done. Remember in the back of your mind, even though the Raiders are important, the A’s make more money for the city.
What is The City Of Oakland’s Present Strategy:
I think many writers and fans are not getting what needs to happen. Every one is trying to find a new place for a Raiders stadium but in reality if EITHER the A’s or the Raiders move, then both teams stay in Oakland because the O.co is now free. The strategy for Oakland is to move the A’s soon because they will be easier to move. The A’s want a 34-39,000 seat stadium. Here is a rendition of the Cisco Stadium plan that eventually was knocked down. It would have been a 35,000 seat stadium in Fremont, CA.
If you move the Raiders over the A’s, you need more land for the stadium and parking. It will still cost the City if the A’s move but for a stadium with less fans, it’s cheaper. If the A’s move, then you now have an empty arena with no team in Oracle, and you have an old stadium that can be torn down. When the Warriors leave you now can use the Oracle area for a shopping or business complex, extra parking or whatever you want.
This keeps both teams in Oakland and you have two great stadiums. Cal Berkeley has said in the past they are open to sharing their newly upgraded stadium for the rental revenue it would provide. God help those in traffic but that is for another day.
Who May Be The Raiders Savior & How the A’s Can Help Them:
Below we will discuss why the the majority owner of the A’s is so important. Don’t think for a second that major league owners aren’t sick of the A’s making money every year and doing nothing to bring in more revenue. Lew Wolf is cheaper than a celebrity at dinner time and the other owners are sick of it and they want a new stadium in Oakland. Of course the owners don’t have the plums to tell the Giants to get bent on the territorial rights that the A’s gave them in the first place to save them, but that’s again for another time.
Remember that since 2000, the A’s are ONLY 1 of three teams in MLB that has made money every year. The A’s make between $35-45 million per year due to the profit sharing in MLB. If it were up to Wolf, he’d keep cashing checks and do nothing but that isn’t popular anymore among MLB owners.
When you ask fans who owns the A’s, everyone says Lew Wolf. Well not exactly. Wolf owns approximately 20% of the A’s. He IS the managing general partner though and he’s been allowed to make the business decisions and speak as the owner. The MAJORITY owner is John Fisher the son of the Gap Founder. (man does every owner have family money?). He owns 80% of the A’s but he’s never really wanted to be involved in the day to day business until now. Get this; the A’s ownership is the 5th richest ownership in MLB. Johnson is younger, more personable and more reasonable than the volatile Wolf & he can help the Raiders.
Wolf and Johnson brought the San Jose Earthquakes back into the professional soccer world in 2008. They built Avaya stadium in San Jose using no tax money which is a fans dream. No one thought they could do it. I think Johnson would have great idea’s for a new park for the A’s, shoring up the Coliseum for the Raiders. It’s like watching a game in a theater and it officially has the largest outdoor bar in the U.S. It has standing room only and a huge drink rail near the bar. It also has field level club suites that are behind the benches. It’s a beautiful place. At the opening of Avaya, Johnson; who rarely speaks anywhere; told the media it’s now time to bring an A’s stadium in Oakland. Here is beautiful Avaya Stadium.
This is the sexy pick for many to bring the Raiders here but again, the city would rather try and move the A’s first because it’s easier. I think if the A’s balked at the idea, then the Raiders could fit well here too.
Let’s be real. Lew Wolf does NOT want to move; Johnson does though. He wants to move and MLB wants that too. Even though Wolf is a charitable person to the community he is very hard headed, abrasive and a close minded man in business. It’s part of the reason the Fremont deal fell through. The 49ers president Jed York kissed many a butt and greased many palms to get Levi’s stadium. That’s how you deal with politicians and business people. It’s what you have to do.
Howard Terminal was first brought up in the mid 2000’s. The City of Oakland loved the idea; Lew Wolf hated it and he nixed it saying in anger, “I may as well move to Treasure Island. This is a terrible spot”. When recently asked about the area again, Wolf said he had no comment and he was in the middle of research and it was ridiculous to ask him that question right now. What a softy. The land is owned by the Port of Oakland so the City is in control there.
In contrast, A’s owner Johnson has told the media HE LOVES the area and they would love to build a stadium there. It is literally right across the water from AT&T Park in San Francisco. Just like the 49ers @ Levi’s, the Raiders would also have to get State approval but that shouldn’t be a problem.
The cons of the stadium is that it will create a traffic nightmare but let’s be real; new studies show that we have the worst traffic in the country now if you add SF and San Jose, so there isn’t a good place. The biggest negative though is no BART trains. BART is hugely popular at the O.co and having it is a must. The City would have to rezone some areas and put in train tracks and a close by station. Oakland has said it’s doable. This is a very promising site. Libby Schaaf stated last week she is already working on rezoning with the stadium area put in. If Lew Wolf would say yes; or better yet John Fisher or Mark Davis; then this could start immediately and the Raider stadium at the Coliseum could begin as well.
Golden Gate Fields:
This was first proposed in 1980 when the race track was struggling and the Raiders wanted to move. Some are bringing this site up again but it’s a very congested area for traffic and there are just too many hills to climb. Not happening.
Laney College in Oakland:
Another area that is being talked about for the A’s or the Raiders is the Laney College plan close to Lake Merritt. In the early 2000’s, the A’s and the City Planning Commission held meetings on a new stadium. The meetings had so many A’s fans going that they had to put the fans in adjacent rooms to hold them all. The meetings were very charged.
A’s fan Larry Jackson kept bugging the city with a plan to build on Laney College. Eventually the City Manager Robert Bobb ran with the idea. The city endorsed it as long as the A’s would foot some of the bill. The A’s LITERALLY never responded. A secondary plan was also submitted at the north side of downtown Oakland by the 19th Street Bart Station. The A’s then made Lew Wolf the lone voice talking to the City and he finally began to listen.
Who nixed those plans was then mayor and future California Governor Jerry Brown who was a political enemy of Bobb. Brown was angry at the A’s for talking to the City of Sacramento about moving without telling the City of Oakland which many said Brown never forgave the A’s for. Brown said it was an act of betrayal and that the A’s were not negotiating in good faith. Brown sabotaged both plans saying they would not work and he would not support them. Laney College by Lake Merritt is still a feasible possibility. The City of Oakland also has said they would want a small parcel of the land still to be given to them but that is very doable. There would also have to be money set aside extra for ample parking but that is also very doable. Lew Wolf and Jerry Brown were very negative about this almost 20 years ago. Both have moved on. This is a maybe with a capital M.
The NFL has ALWAYS LOVED this idea; and still does. When the 49ers and the NFL talked about it at the beginning, Al Davis bristled and said no way. Mark Davis has said the same thing but he’s been a little more silent of late about it. Before they started building Jed York said on local radio that they would entertain thoughts of the Raiders playing in Santa Clara. The 49ers were open to it from the beginning but now that they are making boatloads of cash, the 49ers are more lukewarm about it. With concert money, sporting events, wrestling, conventions and other forms of year round revenue (oh and that thing called the Super Bowl), Levi’s is a cash cow and they are printing money. The NFL said again at the latest meetings that this is what they prefer for the Raiders. They also have seed money that was given to them by the NFL to “morph” Levi’s so the Raiders could use it. This is very doable. The video below shows how the Raiders and 49ers could share the stadium and how it would morph between teams. This is the how they do it video for the Jet’s and the Giant’s. (I apologize for the annoying lady).
I still call it the Coliseum. This is the ideal place for the Raiders and if one of the Oakland teams move, the other will call O.co home. If the Raiders move to let’s say Howard Terminal, than Lew Wolf is happy and the A’s can call it home. Both teams love the easy freeway access, close proximity to airports, and BART is at the doorstep. It’s an amazing spot for a stadium.
In the end the saga will be the same as the vote. You will hear many rumors; some smart; some so out there you wish you could drug test. But in reality; just like with the NFL vote; use common sense and use your head when following this stuff. Most people are very emotional and biased in their thinking. They either support teams or cities or owners but in reality these decisions have NOTHING to do with the heart. Think like a business person and you will get more of a feel on what’s going on. And as ALWAYS; follow the money.
Rod Serling would love this story. Pull up a chair, get a drink and sit back. This is a complicated one.
In the annals of sports, the behind the scenes power and bias of sportswriters is of legend. In baseball it’s out in the open, but in the NFL it’s a little harder to see.
From the Oakland A’s Mike Norris not getting a Cy Young award to the great Cris Carter not being voted into the hall of fame 5 times; writers have a way of getting the last laugh.
Enter the legendary story of Bob Padecky.
A California Thing:
Bob Padecky was an award winning writer for the Sacramento Bee. He was covering the Raiders during the 70’s and 80’s and he wanted to talk to Ken Stabler. After the 1978 season, Ken was coming off what would be his worst year in Oakland. The Raiders were 9-7 that year which was a near tragedy at that time for the team that ended the 1970’s with the most regular season wins. Ken was frustrated and said that he would talk after the season was over.
Bob said he went to the 1979 New Years day Sugarbowl between Penn St. and Alabama. He decided that since New Orleans was not far from Alabama, that he would just drive over there. For some reason he just went.
We Californians are “open books” and many will spill their most intimate details of life to anyone that will listen. The South is a different world. They are respectful of privacy and trust means a lot to them. It must be earned and isn’t given away.
Ken wasn’t happy when Bob showed up. He said he did not want to talk. Bob then said I’m going to go to Foley and Gulf Shores and talk to people. “I wish you wouldn’t do that Bob and if you are, just talk to me”. Bob said nope, and he left. Didn’t he go to talk to Stabler & not get dirt?
Padecky came back and did a three part story on Ken’s issues; mostly what he said was how Stabler was partying too much and wasn’t in shape. Bob felt it wasn’t all that bad (writers never do) but Ken and his friends were not amused. Bob also said others made remarks about Ken and his private life and how he should marry the woman he was with. It may be tame for today’s standards, but at the time it was not taken lightly.
The Cocaine Bust:
Stabler called Padecky during Super Bowl week and said he wanted to spill his guts. He wanted to confront some of the things he was going through with Al Davis including Al blaming many of the failures on him and not wanting to pay him.
Padecky flew over the day after the Super Bowl to meet with Snake. They met at Lefty’s; a restaurant Stabler partially owned; and eventually ended up at the Silver Dollar Lounge.
When they finally sat down, Kenny was not happy. With Ken was Kenny Walker; a 250 pound ex Alabama Center and Randall Watson; a convicted bank robber in 1971 who had recently plead guilty to trying to extort $75,000 from an Alabama telephone executive.
He asked him why he was out to get him. “I never met anyone like you”, Ken said. “Why are you coming to my home town trying to dig up dirt?”.
During the conversation Bob had the tape recorder rolling without asking Ken if he could tape it. I didn’t think this was cool and I always thought reporters would ask the people they interviewed if it was ok to tape the conversation. Ken got mad again cussing occasionally and then took another call. He said I’m sorry I have to go and told him to meet him at a different restaurant.
Stabler left and Bob got up and walked outside to his rental car. As he did, officers were there and arrested him. When asked what for, they told him that an anonymous caller said that he was carrying cocaine. People forget that in the 70’s, some were doing prison time for having small amounts of pot, so cocaine was the big time. An officer looked under one of the wheel wells of the car and found a magnetic key holder with cocaine in it. Bob was taken to the police department to be booked.
The Nightmare As Bob Padecky Tells It:
He implied they did a full cavity search and threatened him saying that they were going to ask for the hardest sentence the judge could hand down. He called the Sac Bee Managing Editor Frank McCulloch and went into his cell. Another cop, Cotton Long came up and said I think you were set up. They escorted him to his hotel where he talked more with Police Chief Jimmy Maples who had a .357 magnum in his hand. In future investigations, no arrest record was found.
Maples called out several cars to stake out the area and protect them. Officer Long came into the room and said that rumors were swirling Padecky’s life might be in danger and that he has to leave immediately. They offered a police escort to the airport and he took it. Padecky said Maples then got a sub machine gun and (insert pun now) rode shot gun and told him to move away if someone pulled up beside him so he could shoot them if they tried anything.
They drove him to the tarmac of the plane and he left. Padecky immediately began writing the story which broke to shock and outrage. Sportswriters everywhere blamed this on the Snake and were angered that someone would do this to one of their own. Kenny to his last days denied any involvement or knowledge of the situation.
Sportswriters Including Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman Were Outraged:
ESPN NFL draft guru (he was the NFL draft guru that made it popular to watch the draft before Mel Kiper had thick hair) Paul “Dr. Z” Zimmerman was especially outraged. He vented his displeasure to anyone that would listen and at that time ESPN was the only voice in Sports. At the time Dr. Z held a lot of weight and he was quoted as saying I will never vote for Stabler to get into the hall of fame as long as I live. Many writers supported Bod Padecky and Dr. Z, and a deep resentment began. They felt Stabler bullied Padecky. I saw quotes from Dr. Z in the Google archives from an old Sports Illustrated article and he stated that the only player he ever lobbied against was Ken Stabler.
Again, Stabler immediately denied he had a part in any of it. The writers didn’t see it that way. Here is a recent podcast of Bob’s on local radio. I like his writing but his personality rubbed me the wrong way especially when he started calling the Alabama cops “bubba’s”. (I downloaded it here)
With cocaine involved; The FBI, State of Alabama and the NFL launched what was called “routine” investigations but nothing could be proven. The cocaine was tested; it had been diluted or “cut” a lot and on the streets it was worth $100. Problem was being in possession of any cocaine in Alabama carried a 2-15 year sentence depending on the circumstance.
On February 13th, Alabama Attorney General said that Ken’s friend, Randall Watson was seen having a waitress buy a magnetic key holder for him that looked exactly like the one that was found. He stated that at the time they could not find Mr. Watson and wanted to talk to him. Eventually Watson was investigated for planting the cocaine but due to a lack of evidence they could not try him for anything.
The press went crazy. Police Chief Maples said he got calls from all over the country for stories including Penthouse magazine. They started calling the Gulf Shores area the Redneck Riviera. Local reporters laughed because every southern stereotype was being written about by the national media.
The lies told were of legend including how everyone there now hated Ken for what happened which was a literal lie. It got so bad that country music singer Madison “Shine” Powell wrote the song Redneck Riviera.
Stabler Linked to Gamblers, Radicals:
This is as bizarre as the Bob Padecky story and is rarely known or talked about. For about a 4 year period in the late 70’s and early 80’s, different agencies investigated Ken for his friendship with a long time New Jersey gambling figure Nicholas Dudich. Dudich was also an associate of the Simone DeCavalcante organized crime family. The Feds in the past have been relentless in hounding the likes of Charlie Chaplin and Martil Luther King Jr. looking for any type of dirt. They did that to Kenny as well.
Due to the extreme hate from owners and commissioner Pete Rozelle towards Al Davis and the Raiders (The late 70’s was the start of the 10 year lawsuit and war between Davis and the NFL), many wanted to see them go down. Davis had heard that several rivals had contacted the NFL and other agencies about Stabler’s association with Dudich.
Different Law enforcement agencies including the FBI admitted to putting Stabler under surveillance without a shred of negative evidence against him ever being found. Much to the chagrin of the media and the NFL, after the 4 years, nothing wrong was ever reported on Ken Stabler.
In the NFL constitution it does state players can’t associate with known gamblers or penalties including termination can result. There have been suspensions and threats like in the cases of Paul Hornung, Alex Karras and Joe Namath, so this was a serious issue for the league. Again, Stabler was found to be not guilty to anything but the damage and resentment had been done.
Remember the Ray Rice situation? In true NFL form, when Pete Rozelle was asked about the situation between Stabler and Dudich in 1981, Pete Rozelle said he had never heard of Dudich and that the league was never told about any investigation or problems with the Snake and his possible association with Dudich. Pete seemed to be the only person in the country not knowing about the situation. Even the Raiders said they were giving regular reports to the NFL via executive assistant Al LoCosale. TMZ was not around to help.
When Stabler was traded for Houston quarterback Dan Pastorini, the Oilers ownership didn’t think there was a problem and were very happy to go along with the trade. The FBI in Houston still tailed him.
Many writers also bristled at Ken’s association with other people. He was seen having beers with Huey Newton of the radical Black Panther movement and he played pool with Sonny Barger, the founder of the Oakland chapter of the Hell’s Angel’s. Here’s the Deal; What Really Happened:
I get Ken Stabler. I have friends of all colors, sexual orientations and backgrounds too. Not everyone approves of them. Not all of them have been church folks. My former pastor did 5 years for manslaughter; but I know one thing; they are always there when I need them. They don’t hurt me and they are loyal to the end so I give them the same love. The only one’s that have ever screwed me over wore nice clothes, drove great cars and were well thought of due to their looks, money or charm.
Ken Stabler was a loyal and good friend. If you were good to him, he was good to you. He was a fun person who wanted to have a good time and didn’t care who you were. He didn’t gamble and he didn’t plant cocaine.
As far as Dudich? Yes, he was Kenny’s friend, and no Stabler didn’t do anything wrong. Four years of investigations proved that.
As far as the Bob Padecky drama, of course drugs were planted. After listening to people that knew Kenny, of course he wasn’t involved. The Snake was a straight shooter who was definitely not shy to tell you how he felt and this wasn’t his style. I’m sure someone close to Ken without his knowledge planted the cocaine to send a message and to get him off of Stabler’s back.
Will Ken Stabler be Elected Into the Hall of Fame?:
Yes. After years of investigation he was never seen doing anything wrong. Many have had crimes linked to them including Lawrence Taylor and others but it’s all good for the Hall of Fame. Baseball never forgets; football at least moves on, and close minded and biased writers fade away.
Padecky & Stabler Meet Again:
In 2009 here at the Sonoma Raceway, Bob saw Kenny for the last time. In a press conference during race week, he asked a question on how he was doing and as always, Kenny talked about enjoying his 3 daughters and family and friends. He had adjusted to life and was very happy. Afterwards, the two men met and shook hands and after each did a little small talk, they walked away. As with most men, time and age soften old wounds, mellow out spirits, and pain is better left in the past.
To Bob’s credit, he wrote an article on how he will miss Ken Stabler and that he was the most enjoyable quarterback to watch along with Joe Montana.
I hope that the Hall of Fame Voters will do the right thing and vote Kenny Stabler into the Hall of Fame; something they have failed to do for the last 25 years. His adoring fans in Oakland and Alabama; and especially his family and friends; deserve no less.