Legendary Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler died Wednesday at age 69, his family confirmed late Thursday afternoon. He passed away from complications due to colon cancer.
The signal caller affectionately known as “The Snake” spent 15 seasons in the NFL but was best known for a decade with the Silver and Black, a span that included a victory in Super Bowl XI in 1977. The four-time Pro Bowler and 1974 NFL MVP was 69-26-1 during his time with the Raiders, when he became known as a player who performed well in the clutch. He took the Raiders to the playoffs six times.
Always a character, Stabler was immensely popular among Raiders fans of that era and beyond.
"The Raiders are deeply saddened by the passing of the great Ken Stabler,” Raiders owner Mark Davis said. "He was a cherished member of the Raider family and personified what it means to be a Raider. He wore the Silver and Black with pride and poise and will continue to live in the hearts of Raider fans everywhere. Our sincerest thoughts and prayers go out to Kenny’s family."
Stabler's family, which issued a statement that can be read entirely below, said Stabler was surrounded by family while listening to Lynard Skynard's "Sweet Home Alabama" and Van Morrison's "Leaves Falling Down" during his final hours.
Stabler was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in February.
His family said Stabler's brain and spinal cord were donated to Boston University's Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy center, which studies degenerative brain disease in athletes. Studying CTE has become a hot topic with former players revealing lasting effects from playing football.
The demand for him to be included in the Pro Football Hall of Fame has carried on for some time.
The Foley, Ala. native ranks high in his home state’s football lore. He was an excellent high school athlete and went on to star at the University of Alabama.
"While there have been many outstanding players in our great football history at Alabama, I think it’s safe to say that few, if any, connected with our fans in the way that Kenny did,” University of Alabama athletic director Bill Battle said in a statement. “…He was an Alabama man through and through.”
Stabler was drafted in the second round of the 1968 draft by Raiders owner/GM Al Davis.
He worked under head coach John Madden, who formed a strong bond with his quarterback during the Raiders’ heyday. Madden called Stabler the "perfect Raider."
Stabler left the Raiders after the 1979 season, and then played for the Houston Oilers (1980-81) and New Orleans Saints (1982-84).
All told, Stabler had a 96-49-1 record, with 27,938 passing yards and 1994 touchdown passes.
His family released the following statement via Facebook: