Tag Archives: quarterback

“Is Jack Del Rio’s Day’s Numbered & is History Repeating Itself; Las Vegas; Oakland Raiders Looking for Answers”

 

Jack Del Rio

When Ken Norton was released from being the defensive coordinator of the Oakland Raiders, it started the ball rolling. According to some reporters, the ball is still rolling.

With Offensive coordinator Todd Downing being the scapegoat to all of the Raiders offensive problems, he is probably gone. He definitely didn’t do a good job, but there was a lot of blame to go around.   People forget the main reason to hiring him was to make Derek Carr happy before negotiations to his huge contract.   Carr loved the hire. Todd Downing was not ready for the job but it is what it is.

The blame is also being given to OL coach Mike Tice now which is puzzling. He’s a good coach and I feel something is fishy here and we will talk about this in a bit.

Going back to Downing, Some complained about the play calling but Derek Carr has the final say on what plays are called. He can audible any time he wishes but usually doesn’t. You can’t blame Downing without giving blame to Carr.   And that’s the tip of the iceberg on offense and defense.

Is Del Rio Still The Answer?:

When JDR was hired, only a few would say that the hiring of Jack Del Rio was not as great as many thought. Most Raider fans loved Jack Del Rio; “in Reggie we trust; in Jack we trust!” was all you heard all off season on social media. Now the same loyal soldiers are carrying pitchforks and torches.

As is the norm, I took ton of heat for my article on Jack Del Rio when he was hired but many of the things I warned fans about are now coming to fruition.  It was a safe hire but there were many others I liked more.

https://jimjax4.wordpress.com/2015/01/17/raiders-win-the-battle-of-the-bay-again-jack-del-rio-is-a-solid-hire-as-oakland-raiders-coach/

To refresh our memories, Jack Del Rio went through 19 coaches during his 9 years at Jacksonville.   Usually when coaches are fired and the head coach isn’t, that means the blame is being put on the coaches instead of the head coach. (Insert Mike Tice’s name here). In 2016 when Mike McCoy kept his job for the Chargers, most of his staff was fired.  John Pagano the defensive coordinator of the Raiders was one of them. Frank Reich the Offensive coordinator of the Eagles was also fired by the Chargers, who before their Qb’s injury was the #1 offense in the NFL.   His staff was sliced and diced but Mike McCoy Survived another year before he was fired.

Gary Radnich of KNBR 680 and KRONTV fame, is a media icon in the bay area and he never says insider information unless he has facts to back them. When Norton was fired Gary said he knew people in the Raiders front office and there were grumblings about Del Rio. The complaints were mostly about the same issues he had at Jacksonville.   Jack was a control freak and didn’t let the coordinators or other coaches do what they wanted. Jack also manipulated people so that he deferred blame to some players and coaches when things didn’t go well. The magical kingdom was crumbling.

The question is will the Raiders give Jack Del Rio three years of free money to go away and get nothing in return? It’s hard to think they will do this but crazier things have happened.

Jims Jamz:

Every teams fan base is pretty much the same. The New York Giants fans last year raved about their front office and coaching staff when they made the playoffs. Now after a terrible season, the fans want their entire front office fired; which most will; even though this was the same coaching staff that lead them to the playoffs last year. I guess they all have Alzheimer’s now and forgot how to coach. The fact that they had more injuries than any other team in the NFL might be more of the reason but that would be too easy. Many fans give all the credit to the players when they win, and all the blame to the coaches when they lose. And if the player is on the field but not playing well, then he has to be hurt. Personally I don’t get it.

And the fact that the Raiders played the 2nd easiest schedule in the NFL last year and had to struggle to barely beat some of these teams with 7 last minute wins means nothing I’m sure. This year they had the 2nd toughest schedule. There are many other reasons but I’ve talked about it at nausea in previous articles.  Firing Downing is not going to bring a Super Bowl to Oakland.

Will Jack Del Rio Survive:

As I said previously, it’s hard to think that the Raiders will pay Jack Del Rio 3 years of salary to go away. I think he gets one more year.  They have other problems too.   The Raiders are near the poorest team in the NFL. The Las Vegas stadium is a mess. If the new GOP tax plan passes, it eliminates any public funds to be used for NFL stadiums. This means the Raiders would have to somehow be grandfathered in, but that will take time and may never happen.  That means they may now have to come up with 750 million more dollars. It could get ugly real quick.

At the end of last year there was so much hope, and now there is lots of turmoil. This is the era of the salary cap and this is how things can change so quickly. With the Raiders making changes and getting an easier schedule next year, I see them coming back and having a good season.  In reality I hope this makes more fans appreciate the 3 Super Bowl Titles the Raider greats of the past won. Daryle Lamonica was 40-4-1 in his first 45 starts as the Raiders QB. Ken Stabler was 56-13 in his first 69 starts. Oakland was 18-1-1 in their first 20 Monday night games. That’s why the Raiders of the past are so revered. It’s not that easy folks.

 

 

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“Which Oakland Raider Players Are Next Into the HOF; Who’s In; Who’s Not”

US PRESSWIRE Sports Archive
Aug 1, 1992; Canton, OH, USA; Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis speaks at his induction ceremony to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. FILE PHOTO; Mandatory Credit: US PRESSWIRE

 

Please sign this petition to get Cliff Branch into the NFL Pro Football Hall of Fame:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/276/842/889/induct-oakland-raider-wr-cliff-branch-into-the-nfl-hall-of-fame/?taf_id=14680187&cid=twitter

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.

 

Bill King:

“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.

 

al-davis-bryant-gumble-tom-flores_pg_600

Tom Flores:

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

cliff branch

Cliff Branch:

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

1990 AFC Divisional Playoffs:  Cincinnati Bengals vs. Los Angeles Raiders
LOS ANGELES – JANUARY 13: Running back Bo Jackson #34 of Los Angeles Raiders stands on the sidelines during the 1990 AFC Divisional Playoffs against the Cincinnati Bengals at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on January 13, 1991 in Los Angeles, California. The Raiders won 20-10. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

Bo Jackson:

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

jim plunkett

Jim Plunkett:

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 - 1996
Todd Christensen – 1996

Todd Christensen:

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

dave dalby

Dave Dalby:

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.

https://sites.google.com/site/silverblackministry/dave-dave-dalby-double-d-50

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

Steve Wisniwski

Steve Wisniewski:

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.

Deserves to be in the HOF: Yes

Will be Voted into HOF: Eventually

“Evaluating the Season in Oakland & What do You Consider a Successful Year for the Raiders?”

raiders vs chiefs
Derek Carr vs the Kansas City Chiefs

The Oakland Raiders are now 5-7 and entering the most difficult part of their schedule.  The big question is what is an acceptable win total for this season to be considered a good one.  The Raiders are 1-5 against teams with winning records, and 3 of the last 4 are against teams with winning records.

 

The Positives of 2015:

Derek Carr: 

I liked the Derek Carr pick when he was drafted when few even knew who he was.  It’s a huge issue in today’s quarterback light NFL to find a franchise quarterback and the Raiders have done that.  His strong arm has helped the long passing game and he’s played well this year.  He has limitations which will be discussed later.

He’s grown as a leader and is a quality person that also makes a team comfortable.  He’s going to be a good pro for 5-10 years at least and the Raiders have a franchise quarterback which many teams can’t say.  The future is bright for the Raiders and for Carr.

Offensive Line:

When healthy, the Raiders offensive line has been as good as any in the NFL.  With Carr not being a great QB when rushed, this is imperative for the Raiders success.  For part of the season Carr was the best protected QB in the NFL and some games he had all day to throw.

The Raiders running game has also been solid and other than Donald Penn, this is a young group that should be good for years to come.  Gabe Jackson to me is one of the most underrated OL in the NFL.  It’s not a coincidence that Carr has not been the same QB when center Rodney Hudson has been hurt.  Carr needs time and the Raiders will need to get depth at OL in the off season.  I really like this group though.

Offense:

Michael Crabtree’s contract extension is a good move by the Raiders.  If you look at his numbers when healthy, they are excellent.  Even with Amari Cooper’s drops, he’s still a solid WR and the sky is the limit with him.  Teams have adjusted to the long ball and the Raiders have yet to learn how to best use Cooper, and he has also not adjusted.

I like the Raiders RB’s a lot.  Latavius Murray, Jamize Olawale, and Roy Helu Jr. are solid.  I’m disappointed that Helu Jr. isn’t used more though.  Talented fan favorite Marcel Reece is probably going to be the odd man out next year leaving for another team.  I think the Raiders have failed to use him right.  He will help any team.

I like the Raiders tight ends.  The problem is the Raiders just rarely throw to them.  The announcers two weeks ago brought up the stats that the Raiders are one of the worst medium passing teams in the NFL and that has to change.  Lee Smith is so underrated and is the best blocking TE in the NFL.  Mychal Rivera and Clive Walford are solid and next year I hope they get more opportunities than they are now.

Defense:

The next month will be important for Kahlil Mack who’s had a few very quiet weeks in between great games.  He has to do it on an every week basis to be elite.  He was completely shut out against the Pittsburgh Steelers.  A switch to LB may help him.

Charles Woodsen has been beaten up but he’s recovered from a tough start of the season to have a great year.  The first month of the season he could not guard tight ends but the Raiders have changed up their defense to give him more freedom and it’s worked.  The LB’s have had their ups and downs big time.

David Amerson has improved of late and the hopes are that he can take over at one of the CB positions.  TJ Carrie has been hurt most of the year but I liked his play at Safety and I think playing him and Woodsen at S would help this team.

Special Teams:

The Raiders still can’t find a healthy and consistent returner.  Marquette King has quietly become as solid a punter as there is and Janikowski has been hot and cold this year.

Coaching:

The Raiders seem much more professional and organized this year and it shows on the field.  You don’t see as many mental errors as in the past.

 

The Negatives of 2015:

People like to throw up stats of young quarterbacks of today to show how great they are.  Let’s be real though; the rules of today are a joke.  DB’s are getting penalties for touching people and QB’s and WR’s can pretty much do as they please.  Just in the Raiders games some of the calls are just beyond bizarre and phantom at best.

Throwing for 300 yards is almost the norm and in the last 3 ½ years passing and receiving yard records are falling like leaves.  Most passing records have occurred in the last 3 ½ years and it’s not a coincidence.

Derek Carr has been much improved but right now he’s the 31st rated QB in the 4th quarter with a quarterback rating of only 60%.  He also leads the NFL with 7 fourth quarter interceptions.  He has and probably always will struggle against a pass rush.  Some try to site how good he does against a blitz but of course he can do well if the blitz is picked up.  In the 4th quarter of the KC Chiefs game, the Chiefs blitzed almost every play.  The play calling never changed and against 5 and 7 step drop passes, Carr was toast and made some really bad throws.

Derek also is not a good manager of the game.  He seems to kind of go with the plays that are called with few real audibles and that has to change.  The injury to center Rodney Hudson really hurt the Raiders.

Offense:

Amari Cooper had a great first half of the season but teams soon adjusted.  He has lost some confidence with drops being an issue the last month.

The Raiders lack of OL depth has been seen after Rodney Hudson got hurt.  It’s something they need to fix this off season.  Latavius Murray has to be more consistent.  He’s had a couple of horrible games and in Chicago it got to the point that he was afraid to catch the ball, even looking to get hit.  He has to show up every week.

Defense:

It’s been an up and down year for sure.  The Raiders finally started playing DJ Hayden less and his days in Oakland are numbered.  Seeing Star Lotulelei be a starting fixture on the best DL in the NFL and on the best team the Carolina Panthers hurts.  He fell in the Raiders lap and the Raiders took Hayden instead.

Curtis Lofton is good against the run but really bad against the pass and Malcolm Smith is really good against the past but has struggles against the run.  Ben Heeney is not good against the pass and is more of a backup.  Moving Mack back to LB and bringing in or drafting a 3 down LB would greatly help this team.  The DL seems to have lots of talent but they either struggle against the run or they can’t get to the QB at times.  It’s very inconsistent.

Nate Allen has struggled with tackling and that’s when he plays.  David Amerson shows potential at CB.  Beating up on DJ Hayden anymore does no good for anyone.  He’ll be gone next year.  TJ Carrie’s health issues have hurt this year.

Special Teams:

The Raiders still need someone that can return kings on a week to week basis.

Coaching:

The Raiders are 21st in second half points with only 10 a game.  They are 29th in 4th quarter points with only 4.8.  That’s not a good second half team.  The Raiders defense is dead last in the NFL in the 4th quarter giving up 10.8 points per game.  The Raiders coaches need to do more at half time to combat opponents adjustments.

People that read me know I am not a Bill Musgrave fan.  He has never had much success in 15 years and was even demoted and eventually fired by Jack Del Rio when they were at Jacksonville.  For me his hire made no sense.

In the Chiefs game you saw this in an epic way.  The Chiefs were struggling at times on defense so in the 4th quarter they just literally said lets blitz every play.  They sent 5-7 players at Carr and there were no adjustments.  Carr still tried to look deep and instead of running screens and short passes, the Raiders just kept doing 5 and 7 step drops.

On defense the Raiders started blitzing DB’s, especially CB’s.  I didn’t understand that because the Chiefs started doing bubble screens and actually scored two touchdowns that way.  Alex Smith is the Ichabod Crane of the NFL and no way is he going to throw downfield so they should have played press coverage and blitzed their LB’s if you want to blitz.

Special Teams:

Janikowski has had his bad moments this year.  He’s had some rough games this year but I think he’s not going anywhere.  The Raiders return game has to improve and they need someone that can consistently return kicks.

Overview of 2015 & Looking Forward:

As I said at the start of the year this is NOT a playoff team.  I think next year is the Raiders year.  Some will consider this year an epic fail and some fans could find the good in an 0-16 year and there really isn’t a bottom.  The more realistic fan will realize the Raiders still have holes to fill but they are improved.

The first thing the Raiders need to do is stop talking about how confident they are and realize they have second half issues both on and off the field.  The coaches are not adjusting and neither are the players.  Eventually when you keep losing confidence starts becoming denial.

The Raiders have to start adjusting to what teams are doing.  Carr needs to be much more active at changing plays.

Denver stops the run; you are not going to run wild on them.  What do you do?  Short passing game like Kansas City did.  The minor weakness that the Broncos have is that their LB’s love to make big plays.  They have on occasions struggled covering RB’s in the passing game.  I throw to Roy Helu Jr. or Murray often.  I also use the tight ends much more.  The Chiefs nickeled and dimed the Broncos all game and wore them down.  When you do that, now you can run some.

With their new QB the Broncos are a conservative passing team that wants to establish the run.  Now you put a safety up to stop the run and blitz him to make him pass quickly.  These are adjustments that need to occur.

What is your bottom line in regards to a successful season?  I said 7-9 is average and 8-8 would be a nice season to be successful in the upcoming year.  If the Raiders lose 3 of 4 though, a 6-10 season is a fail.  The Raiders have a rough month ahead but there will be lots of opportunities for players to show they are a part of the equation for next year.

“The Passing Of Legendary Raider Ken Stabler Shocks a Nation”

Kendra: @JimJaxMedia this is an amazing article and tribute to my Dad. Thank you. He would have loved this. The love & support has amazed us all.

Marissa:  @JimJaxMedia  Thank you so much for honoring my dad with such beautiful words.
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“Some People need 8 Hours of sleep and some need 3 hours.  I didn’t need much sleep and sometimes studied my playbook by the light of the jukebox”

Ken Stabler

“He was the perfect quarterback and the perfect Raider.  If I had to pick one quarterback to win a game in the final drive, it would be Ken Stabler”

John Madden

“It’s a Travesty of sports justice that Ken Stabler is not in the Hall of Fame.  He was as good as any quarterback I ever saw”

Former Bronco Great, Tom Jackson

“Joe Namath was the greatest athlete at quarterback that I ever had, but Ken Stabler was the best quarterback that I ever coached.”

Paul “Bear” Bryant, legendary Alabama Coach

“He was such a gentleman.  He wanted to fight it quietly without bother.  That’s who he was”. 

Ted Hendricks, HOF Raider Linebacker

“I never saw anything like it.  He was like Madison Bumgarner the way he could throw fastballs or sliders with pinpoint accuracy.” 

Lester Hayes, Former Raider Cornerback

Kx0IymNp

“The Passing Of Legendary Raider Ken Stabler Shocks a Nation”

A leader and true Southern Gentleman to the end.

I’m the big brother people call when there is a tragedy or a problem. There isn’t a week that goes by where someone won’t call me between midnight and 3 am with either a problem or wanting to talk.  Call it the John Boy Walton in me.  For this I don’t cry much in front of people and I try to be strong. And to be honest I never cry over a celebrity or an athlete’s death. Famous people have never impressed me that much and when people drop their names I just kind of shrug.  Unfortunately after hearing the fiasco which is the internet tell me finally that the matriarch of the dynasty which was the Oakland Raiders was gone, I was filled with emotions that shocked me.

Kenny Stabler; Snake; passed away yesterday at the age of 69 due to complications of stage 4 colon cancer sending a shock wave of sadness throughout the NFL world. In death, as he did in life, Kenny took on the pressure himself and many of his teammates didn’t even know he was sick. Stabler, until the end; was the classy leader that took on the pressure while lifting the load off of others.  Later in life he did color commentary for Alabama games and the state is in mourning for their favorite son.

I slowly walked down my hiking trail and just wanted a minute alone with no sounds. I looked out over the water and for the first time in my life I cried over the loss of a professional athlete.

Ken Stabler; like many; was my favorite athlete. In fact I often either wanted #12 on my teams or the #21 for Roberto Clemente. As an adult I would often write both numbers on professional contracts at the bottom of pages. I remember my parents and coaches getting mad at me as a little boy for wanting to use my left hand like Kenny. I remember praying to God to make me have special powers so I could use my left arm like Stabler did.

For a young fan to even grasp in a small way what Stabler meant to the Raiders would take a lot of effort on their part. If you ever get the chance, read the book Snake. It’s the candid account of the lifestyle and crazy ways of the Raiders of that time. In the greatest era of the NFL in the 70’s, George Clooney and Clint Eastwood had nothing on the Snake.

In high school Stabler was 29-1 as a starter.  He averaged 29 points a game as a high school basketball player and was drafted by two major league baseball teams.  At Alabama he was 28-3-2.  For the Raiders he was 69-26-1.  126-30-4.  I’m speechless.

To see how dominating the Raiders and Ken Stabler were, look at this stat.   In Stabler’s first 69 games as a regular starter for the Raiders, the Raiders were 56-13. I actually had to check the numbers 5 times to make sure they were right. That is unreal. That’s greatness.

The Stabler Kindness:

Stabler’s generation is amazing. Many times under the darkest of circumstances, they are so selfless. This is seen especially in sickness and death.  When he was sick he didn’t want to be a burden and again, was as selfless and giving as a man can be. Kenny and his family have helped countless people through the XOXO Stabler Foundation. Kenny also was amazingly giving of his time and his efforts in many charities and causes. Like most of his generation he didn’t want much fanfare and didn’t call the presses every time he helped someone. He was a great person. He never turned down a fans request to sign something or talk to him.

I often feel bad for his daughters, grand kids & his long time Partner Kim who have shown great patience with some of us loving Ken so much. They have been as caring and kind as he was. In death they also showed the selfless Stabler spirit. The Stabler family announced that his brain and spinal cord will be donated to Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center to support research for degenerative brain disease in athletes. People forget that the Snake was involved in the concussion lawsuit against the NFL.

The Bond:

People often say why does it matter where the Raiders play? I always tell people outside the Oakland bay area that the Raiders are your team but they are our family.

The stories about the fans and players interactions during the glory days of the Raiders in the 70’s are of legend and will never be seen again.   The Santa Rosa area would be up all night during training camp, and many times Ken Stabler was up with them. My father actually got to drink with Mr. Stabler once in Santa Rosa when the Raiders were holding court in one of the watering holes.

People forget that during the 70’s the players weren’t getting rich off of the NFL. Many players had extra jobs and did other things to make money. Often times they would meet, work with, or become friends with the fans.   You can still see it with some of the Raiders kids and grandkids who are online still repping the silver and black.   With fans. the Raiders were not considered celebrities but literal family members.

The fans were close to the players but the most beloved player of them all was Ken Stabler. Mix part Clint Eastwood, part Johnny Cash, part Sammy Baugh and Part Johnny Unitas and you had Ken Stabler.

I laugh now when fans say the NFL and other teams hate the Raiders. They really have no idea what hate is. Back in the 70’s there was no internet, and there wasn’t even an ESPN. The only way to get national news on any team was to watch it on television and most news services were based on the east coast and they were extremely biased. There were times that you would get more coverage about the Jets and Yankees than you did on your local teams.  If they covered the Raiders, it usually wasn’t very positive.

The Raiders were flat out hated; by everyone; including some in the media. Since the merger Raider owner Al Davis felt screwed by the AFL and the NFL because he felt they had told him he would become their commissioner.   Al Davis from then on was a renegade and it was us against the world. The Raiders constantly had one of the best teams in the NFL and the loudest home crowd but because they never had won a Super Bowl, they were shredded in the media.

The media often said there was a reason for their apathy towards Oakland.  “The Raiders and Ken Stabler can’t win the big one; they choke in the big games; the road to the Super Bowl easily goes through Oakland; The Chokeland Raiders”; it was hard for fans at that time to take, and only a Super Bowl win would fix it.

The animosity for the Raiders was so bad that even after Stabler won the 1974 MVP trophy (and even opponents were shocked he didn’t win it in 1976); many times announcers would have to remind people during the game all the things that Stabler had accomplished. If you were west of the Mississippi in those days, you had to really fight for respect.

Stabler was Joe Montana before Montana. Montana often said Stabler was the guy he tried to be like and that was someone he looked up to. Stabler was a master at game management and his pinpoint passing accuracy was of legend.   Because the Raiders were so good he never got the credit for being as great as he was and that often bothered other players, but not Snake. Remember this was during the time where there are no HD high speed camera and videos on the sidelines, or radio transmitters in the helmets. Quarterbacks actually did call their own plays. From Stabler to John Madden, to Ron Wolf to Al Davis; they all told the media the same thing. We don’t care what the other team does; we are going to do what we do and they can’t stop us. Supreme confidence with results.

Players often have wondered how someone as great as Stabler could not be in the Hall of Fame. My friend Tim Casto who I really enjoy; founder of Raiders Homeport; reminded me of a nasty situation between Stabler and quality sports writer Bob Padecky.  There were rumors of a drug set up and most writers supported Bob and turned on Snake. Writers around the country helped ruin Stabler’s reputation and tried to keep him out of the hall of fame.  They said they did not want to be intimidated into writing fluff pieces on athletes.  Ken Stabler is still the only Super Bowl winning QB of the 1970’s not in the HOF.  He’s also the only all decade QB not to be elected into the hall.  Travesty.

I rarely get into twitter wars but I got into 2 of them yesterday. Two clueless east coast writers said Stabler wasn’t all that talented. Are you kidding me? Bear Bryant, the Alabama coaching Icon called Stabler the greatest quarterback he ever coached. John Madden said the same thing and said even today if he needed to have one quarterback for one drive, he’d pick Ken Stabler to run that drive.   Raider hater and Denver Bronco great Tom Jackson said Stabler was as good as any QB to ever play the game.

We fans are too young but what about the 1967 “Run in the Mud” Stabler did to beat Auburn in the Iron Bowl when he was at Alabama? His 53 yard run was the longest of the season and is a Crimson Tide legend. The Sea of Hands game; the Holy Roller; Ghost to the Post and the countless other games that he lead comebacks in. In fact if the call were reversed, Stabler would have won the game in the Immaculate Reception fiasco with his long run for a touchdown against the Steelers.

Some say Snake didn’t have the numbers but it was a different game then. The rules allowed defenders to do anything they wanted to quarterbacks and wide receivers and passing wasn’t a huge part of the game. It got so crazy with the violence that Chuck Knoll once called the Oakland Police Department to arrest Jack Tatum and George Atkinson for assault. It isn’t like today where Wide Receivers roam free skipping over the middle like school kids while QB’s can’t be touched. The numbers you see now are comical and the passing game is much easier.

Hall of Fame quarterback Fran Tarkenton reiterated that yesterday on KNBR. “In fact a rule change changed the NFL.  After the 1979 Season, the NFL stopped allowing players to hit Wide Receivers after 5 yards down the field. This literally was directly attributed to George Atkinson and Jack Tatum.  This made the game much more wide open and easier for quarterbacks.”

The 70’s also was the most talented era of all time. The Steel Curtain; the Doomsday Defense; The Orange Crush; the Purple People Eaters; the No Name Defense; no era was dominated with so much talent in NFL history. There was no salary cap and teams were loaded with talent. In one game in the 70’s between the Steelers and Raiders there were 21 future hall of fame players, owners and coaches on the field. Try naming 10 hall of famers in a game today.   I usually don’t hold grudges but I will always hold a grudge against the Hall of Fame Voting Committee for not voting the Snake in while he was still alive.

Someone close to my heart; my friend Mike Yokum; has lead a valiant effort to try and get Kenny Stabler into the Hall of Fame. Anyone reading this article hopefully will take one minute to sign his petition.

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/541/199/738/petition-to-induct-ken-stabler-into-the-pro-football-hall-of-fame/?taf_id=12432385&cid=fb_na#

“It may sound corny”, Mike said, “but Kenny’s effect on my childhood was profound. Just this week I received some signed merchandise from him. He thought of me even though he was dying. I didn’t even know he was sick. He was so giving. A man’s man to the end.”

Tim Casto also gave light on what he thought would happen in regards to the hall of fame. “He was born to be a Raider. I think this finally will be the year that he gets into the Hall of Fame. People forget that Ken was the 3rd fastest to get to 100 wins taking only 150 games. If you look only at his statistics as a Raider, they are pretty amazing. People also overlook what a kind man he was. He was very giving and did a lot through his great foundation and many other charities that he helped. The Steelers and Rooney family; the Raiders hated rivals; are actually pushing for Ken to be in the hall of fame and they have a lot of pull”.

http://xoxostablerfoundation.com/

After I sat for a few hours and just kind of wondered about things I thought to myself, what would the Snake tell me now if he were here. I then imagined Ken Stabler’s voice; a cool guy with his smooth southern accent say,

“Jim I’ve had a wonderful life; I had 3 amazing daughters that are the light of my eye and the beat of my heart; I have grandkids that make me proud every minute of the day; I played for the greatest organization and college in sports in front of the greatest fans in the world.   I have loved and lived hard. I had fun every step of my life and now I’m with my maker with no more pain or worries. So get up and go live life to the fullest and don’t worry about me.   Live it with a wink in one eye and a twinkle in the other.  I’m fine.”

final stabler

All of a sudden I smiled broadly, quickly got up and I felt like a million bucks. I walked half way up the hill, stopped and then looked up into the sky into the lights across the water. For some reason I took a picture although it was pitch black, and said out loud, “Thanks Kenny. For everything.”

Like I said. A leader and true southern gentleman to the end.