Former Alabama quarterback Ken Stabler will finally get his due on Saturday as he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
With the induction of Ken Stabler on Saturday, one of the all-time Pro Football Hall of Fame snubs will finally be canonized. Stabler was selected for induction earlier this year by the Hall’s Senior Committee.
Stabler was born and raised in Foley, Alabama. In high school, he starred in football, baseball, and basketball. It was there that he earned the nickname “Snake” following one particularly circuitous touchdown run.
Recruited to the Capstone by Bear Bryant, Stabler led Alabama to a perfect 11-0 season in 1966, though the Crimson Tide were infamously denied another championship by the polls. As a senior, Stabler excelled further, earning All-SEC and All-American honors despite Alabama’s somewhat disappointing 8-2-1 record.
The high point of his Alabama career came in the 1967 Iron Bowl. Early in the 4th quarter, Alabama trailed Auburn 3-0 in a waterlogged defensive battle. Then Stabler broke a 53-yard option run for a touchdown that sent the Tide to a 7-3 victory. His “Run in the Mud” still appears in the pregame hype video before every Alabama home game.
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Drafted by the Oakland Raiders in the second round of the 1968 NFL Draft, Stabler saw only limited playing time until the 1973-74 season. Though knee injuries robbed him of his former trademark scrambling ability, the Snake re-invented himself as a talented pocket-passer. He went on to win the 1974 NFL MVP award and lead the Raiders to victory in Super Bowl XI.
Known as a hard partier, Stabler was in many ways the quintessential Raider. He famously bragged of studying his playbook by the light of a jukebox. Stabler’s long hair and wild ways perfectly embodied the spirit of the NFL’s most outrageous franchise.
As a Raider, Stabler also initiated the infamous “Holy Roller” play. On the final play against the San Diego Chargers in 1978, the Snake deliberately fumbled the football forward before he could be sacked by fellow Alabama great Woodrow Lowe. After it was batted forward several more times, Dave Casper fell on the ball for the winning touchdown. This led the NFL to enact the “Ken Stabler Rule” to restrict desperation fumbles at the end of a half.
Following interception-plagued stints with the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints, Stabler retired. Later, he began a successful career in broadcasting. Stabler ultimately provided radio commentary for Alabama football through the 2007 season.
In recent years, Stabler was one of the more controversial Hall of Fame exclusions. He finished his career with 27,938 passing yards and 194 touchdowns. These numbers surpassed those of his contemporaries Joe Namath and Bob Griese, both of whom were inducted over 25 years ago. Though it has taken far too long, Stabler’s induction should come as a relief to the Crimson Tide and Raider faithful.
Sadly, however, neither Ken Stabler nor fellow senior committee inductee Dick Stanfel will be there to accept their induction. Both men passed away last summer. It is a shame that it took their deaths for these men to catch the eye of the Hall’s Senior Committee. Hopefully, they will be the last inductees to pass before being awarded a gold jacket. Give them their accolades while they are living.
The induction ceremony will be televised live on Saturday, August 6, at 6 PM CT on the NFL Network. Stabler will be presented by his former coach and fellow Hall of Famer, John Madden.