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Raiders great Stabler dies at 69

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Ken Stabler, a four-time Pro Bowl quarterback who led the Oakland Raiders to victory in Super Bowl XI, died Wednesday at age 69.

After conflicting reports of his death, his family posted an announcement on his Facebook page on Thursday: “We announce with great sadness that our father, Ken Stabler, passed away Wednesday, July 8, as a result of complications associated with colon cancer.”

His family said he had been battling Stage 4 colon cancer since being diagnosed in February.

WPMI-TV in Mobile, Ala., reported that Stabler died in Gulfport, Miss.

“The Raiders are deeply saddened by the passing of the great Ken Stabler,” owner Mark Davis said in a statement. “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.”

John Madden said in a statement, “I was head coach of the Raiders the entire time Kenny was there and he led us to a whole bunch of victories including one in Super Bowl XI. I’ve often said, If I had one drive to win a game to this day, and I had a quarterback to pick, I would pick Kenny. Snake was a lot cooler that I was. He was a perfect quarterback and a perfect Raider. When you think about the Raiders you think about Ken Stabler. Kenny loved life. It is a sad day for all Raiders.”

The statement by his family said Stabler — a football legend at the University of Alabama — was surrounded by his three daughters and longtime partner and died peacefully while listening to Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama,” among other favorite songs.

His brain and spinal cord were donated to Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center to aid in the research of degenerative brain disease in athletes, his family said.

“He wanted to make a difference in the lives of others in both life and death,” the family said.

Stabler, who was nicknamed “The Snake” in high school, starred at Alabama under legendary coach Bear Bryant in the 1960s before spending 15 years in the NFL. He is still the Raiders’ career passing leader with 19,078 yards.

A second-round pick of the Raiders in 1968, he replaced Daryle Lamonica in 1973 and took the Raiders to five consecutive AFC title games. Oakland lost in all but the AFC Championship Game following the 1976 season, when the Raiders advanced to the Super Bowl and beat the Minnesota Vikings 32-14.

After 10 seasons with the Raiders, Stabler was traded to the Houston Oilers in 1980 for quarterback Dan Pastorini.

Stabler threw for 5,190 yards, 27 touchdowns and 46 interceptions with Houston, and the Oilers went 16-12 with him under center. In the 1980 playoffs, they lost to the Raiders, who went on to win the Super Bowl.

Stabler followed Oilers coach Bum Phillips to New Orleans to finish his career with the Saints (1982-84).

Former Raiders teammate Willie Brown told SiriusXM NFL Radio on Thursday: “He was a great leader, a great Raider and should be in the Hall of Fame.”

Many have lobbied for his enshrinement; he was a finalist in 1990, 1991 and 2003.

Stabler recently was working on a book with The Sports Xchange’s Tom LaMarre, a former Raiders beat writer. About three weeks ago, Stabler told LaMarre he had cancer but he was doing fine and wanted to complete the book.


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