Ken Stabler

Kenneth Michael Stabler (December 25, 1945 – July 8, 2015), nicknamed "Snake", was an American football quarterback in the National Football League (NFL) for the Oakland Raiders (1970–1979), Houston Oilers (1980–1981) and New Orleans Saints (1982–1984). He played college football for the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Stabler quarterbacked the Raiders to victory in Super Bowl XI, was the 1974 NFL Most Valuable Player and was selected as a quarterback for the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team. Stabler was posthumously elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2016.[1]

Ken Stabler
refer to caption
Stabler in 2007
No. 12, 16
Position:Quarterback
Personal information
Born:December 25, 1945
Foley, Alabama
Died:July 8, 2015 (aged 69)
Gulfport, Mississippi
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:215 lb (98 kg)
Career information
High school:Foley (Foley, Alabama)
College:Alabama
NFL Draft:1968 / Round: 2 / Pick: 52
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
TDINT:194–222
Passing yards:27,938
Passer rating:75.3
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

High school career

Stabler became a highly touted football player at Foley High School in Foley, Alabama. He led Foley to a win-loss record of 29–1 over his high school football career—the only loss coming against Vigor High School. He was an all-around athlete in high school, averaging 29 points a game in basketball and excelling enough as a left-handed pitcher in baseball to receive minor-league contract offers from the Houston Astros and New York Yankees. He was an all-American athlete. During his high school career, he earned his nickname "The Snake"[2] from his coach following a long, winding touchdown run.

College career

Stabler was recruited by legendary head coach Bear Bryant at Alabama. Due to NCAA regulations at the time, freshmen were ineligible to play on the varsity in the University Division. Stabler was on the freshman team in 1964, when the Crimson Tide won the National Championship with quarterback Joe Namath.

As a sophomore in 1965, Stabler was used sparingly as a back-up to Steve Sloan at quarterback,[3] following Namath's departure to the AFL. That year, the Crimson Tide won their second consecutive National Championship, finishing the season with a record of 9–1–1. The team defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Orange Bowl, 39–28.

As a junior in 1966, he took over the starting quarterback position. He led the team to an undefeated, 11–0 season which ended in a 34–7 rout of Nebraska in the Sugar Bowl. Despite the unblemished record, the Tide was snubbed by the polls, finishing third behind Notre Dame and Michigan State, neither of which played in a bowl.

Expectations were high in Stabler's senior season, though those expectations would not be completely fulfilled. The offense often struggled in 1967, and the defense's performance slipped. During the season, Bryant kicked Stabler off the team for cutting class and partying, though he was given a second chance.[4] The Tide finished with an 8–2–1 record, including a loss to rival Tennessee. Though the season was lackluster, Stabler would provide a memorable moment in the Iron Bowl. Trailing 3–0 in a game drenched by rain, Stabler scampered through the mud for a 47-yard, game-winning touchdown which gave the Tide a 7–3 victory over rival Auburn at Legion Field. The play is commonly referred to as the "Run in the Mud" in Alabama football lore.

Professional career

Stabler was selected in the second round of the 1968 NFL/AFL Draft by the Oakland Raiders, the reigning AFL champions. He was also drafted to play baseball by the New York Yankees in 1966, the New York Mets in 1967 and the Houston Astros in 1968.[5] He signed a two-year contract with the Raiders in March 1968.[6] In November 1968, the Raiders sent Stabler to Spokane, Washington to play for the Spokane Shockers of the Continental Football League.[7] He played in two games for the Shockers before being recalled by the Raiders in late November.[8][9][10] In July 1969, Stabler left the Raiders.[11] However, in November 1969, Stabler said "I'll be back in pro football come June".[12] In January 1970, it was reported that Stabler and Raiders head coach John Madden agreed that Stabler would return to the Raiders for training camp in July.[13] Stabler made his first regular season appearance as a Raider in 1970. He first attracted attention in the NFL in a 1972 playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. After entering the game in relief of a flu-ridden Daryle Lamonica, he scored the go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter on a 30-yard scramble. The Steelers, however, came back to win on a controversial, deflected pass from Terry Bradshaw to Franco Harris, later known in football lore as the Immaculate Reception.

After suffering severe knee injuries, Stabler became less a scrambling quarterback and more a classic, drop-back passer, known for accurate passes and an uncanny ability to lead late, come-from-behind drives. During the peak of his career, he had a receiving corps consisting of sprinter and 4-time Pro-Bowler Cliff Branch, Hall of Fame receiver Fred Biletnikoff, and Hall of Fame tight end Dave Casper. The Raiders' philosophy was to pound teams with their running game (aided by multiple-time Pro Bowler Marv Hubbard at fullback, and Clarence Davis at tailback), then stretch them with their long passing game. Although Stabler lacked remarkable arm strength, he was a master of the long pass to Branch, and accurate on intermediate routes to Biletnikoff and Casper. As a starter in Oakland, Stabler was named AFC player of the year in 1974 and 1976, and was the NFL's passing champion in 1976. In January 1977 he guided the Raiders to their first Super Bowl victory, a 32–14 win over the Minnesota Vikings. In the 1977 AFC playoffs against the Baltimore Colts, Stabler completed a legendary 4th quarter pass to Casper to set up a game-tying field goal by Errol Mann. This play, dubbed the "Ghost to the Post", sent the game to double overtime, during which the Raiders won 37–31 after Stabler threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Casper. In the second game of 1978 on September 10, the Holy Roller (Immaculate Deception) Game saw Oakland win 21–20 at San Diego after a 4th quarter forward fumble by Stabler was caught and forward-fumbled by two other players to score a touchdown and win the game, causing the Ken Stabler Rule to be enacted, permitting only the fumbling player to recover the ball during a fourth down play, or during any down played after the two-minute warning in a half or overtime.

After subpar 1978 and 1979 seasons in which the Raiders failed to make the playoffs, and saw the departure of many team leaders from the Super Bowl run: Clarence Davis, Skip Thomas, George Atkinson, Fred Biletnikoff, Willie Brown, and head coach John Madden, Stabler was traded to the Oilers for Dan Pastorini prior to the 1980 season, after a lengthy contract holdout. Stabler left the Raiders as their all-time leader in completions (1,486), passing yards (19,078), and touchdown passes (150). The Oilers, in turn, saw Stabler as the missing ingredient that could finally get them past the rival Steelers and into the Super Bowl. However Houston lacked the exceptional talent on offense that Stabler had thrived with in Oakland, as Earl Campbell and Casper- who was also acquired in a trade from the Raiders- were the few potent weapons they had. Meanwhile, Pastorini lost the starting job in Oakland to Jim Plunkett after an injury, and Plunkett then led the Raiders over Stabler and the Oilers in the playoffs. Oilers head coach Bum Phillips was fired shortly after the season.

Without the popular head coach that rejuvenated an otherwise woeful Houston franchise, Stabler had a mediocre season in 1981 but re-joined Bum Phillips when the New Orleans Saints traded longtime starter Archie Manning to Houston for Stabler and offensive tackle Leon Gray. By this time, however, the 37-year-old Stabler was past his prime and the Saints were still a fairly dismal franchise. The 1983 season was Stabler's best as a Saint. He started 14 games, and while the team's record in those games was only 7–7, Stabler was the starter for the final game of the season, in New Orleans, against the division rival Los Angeles Rams. Had the Saints won that game, they would have finished 9–7 and reached their first trip to the playoffs. But the Rams pulled out the victory late in the 4th quarter, 26–24. The Saints then acquired New York Jets veteran Richard Todd, who like Stabler played for Bryant at Alabama, before the 1984 season and Stabler retired in the middle of that season.

Stabler was the fastest to win 100 games as a starting quarterback, having done so in 150 games, which bettered Johnny Unitas' previous mark of 153 games. Since then, only Terry Bradshaw in 147 games, Joe Montana in 139 games and Tom Brady in 131 games have reached 100 wins more quickly.[14]

In the early part of 1974, Stabler and several NFL stars agreed to join the newly created World Football League. Stabler signed a contract to play for the Birmingham Americans. "I'm as happy as can be. Getting with a super organization and the financial benefits were key factors, but the biggest thing to me is getting back home. Getting to play before the people in the South is where it's at for me. In two years I'll be in Birmingham if I have to hitchhike", he said. "If I can do for the WFL what Joe Namath did for the AFL, I will feel that I have really accomplished something. I was born in the South and raised in the South and played football in the South. Oakland could have offered me as much money as Birmingham but they couldn't have let me play in the South." The WFL would end up folding midway through the 1975 season, and Stabler remained in the NFL without ever playing in the WFL.

For his successes in the NFL, Stabler was named the twenty-seventh greatest quarterback of the post-merger era by Football Nation.[15]

At the 2016 NFL Honors it was announced that Stabler would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Stabler was officially inducted into the Hall of Fame on August 6, 2016.

Career statistics

NCAA collegiate career statistics
Alabama Crimson Tide
Season Passing Rushing
Comp Att Yards Pct. TD Int QB rating Att Yards Avg TD
1965 3 11 26 27.3 0 0 47.1 61 328 5.4 1
1966 74 114 956 64.9 9 5 152.6 93 397 4.3 3
1967 103 178 1,214 57.9 9 13 117.2 111 113 1.0 5
Career 180 303 2,196 59.4 18 18 128.0 265 838 3.2 9
NFL career statistics
Year Team Games Passing Rushing
G GS Comp Att Pct Yards TD Int Rate Att Yards Avg TD
1970 OAK 3 0 3 7 42.8 52 0 1 18.5 1 -4 -4.0 0
1971 OAK 14 1 24 48 50.0 268 1 4 39.2 4 29 7.3 2
1972 OAK 14 1 44 74 59.5 524 4 3 82.3 6 27 4.5 0
1973 OAK 14 11 163 260 62.7 1,997 14 10 82.3 21 101 4.8 0
1974 OAK 14 13 178 310 57.4 2,469 26 12 88.3 12 -2 -0.2 1
1975 OAK 14 13 171 293 58.4 2,296 16 24 67.3 6 -5 -0.8 0
1976 OAK 12 12 194 291 66.7 2,737 27 17 103.4 7 -2 -0.3 1
1977 OAK 13 13 169 294 57.5 2,176 20 20 75.2 3 -3 -1.0 0
1978 OAK 16 16 237 406 58.4 2,944 16 30 63.4 4 0 0.0 0
1979 OAK 16 16 304 498 61.1 3,615 26 22 82.2 16 -4 -0.3 0
1980 HOU 16 16 293 457 64.1 3,202 13 28 68.7 15 -22 -1.5 0
1981 HOU 13 12 165 285 57.9 1,988 14 18 69.5 10 -3 -0.3 0
1982 NO 8 8 117 189 61.9 1,343 6 10 71.8 3 -4 -1.3 0
1983 NO 14 14 176 311 56.6 1,988 9 18 61.4 9 -14 -1.6 0
1984 NO 3 0 33 70 47.1 339 2 5 41.3 1 -1 -1.0 0
Career 184 146 2,270 3,793 59.8 27,938 194 222 75.3 118 93 0.8 4

After football

Broadcasting career

Following his retirement as a player, Stabler worked as a color commentator, first on CBS NFL telecasts, and then on radio with Eli Gold for Alabama football games. Stabler left before Alabama's 2008 season and was replaced by Phil Savage.[16]

Charitable work

Stabler served as chairman of the XOXO Stabler Foundation, a 501(c)3 nonprofit with a mission "to raise funds, build awareness and hope for a variety of charitable causes." Stabler's celebrity golf tournaments in Point Clear, Alabama have raised nearly $600,000 for charitable partner The Ronald McDonald House of Mobile, which serves families of seriously ill and injured children receiving medical treatment at local hospitals.[17]

In media

Personal life

Stabler was married three times: Isabel Clarke from 1968 to 1973, Debbie Fitzsimmons from 1975 to 1978, and Rose Molly Burch from 1984 to 2009

Stabler had three daughters, Kendra Stabler Moyes, Alexa Rose Stabler, and Marissa Leigh Stabler.[21]

Renowned for being cool and cerebral on the field, Stabler was equally legendary for his off-field exploits; he wrote in his 1986 autobiography Snake, "The monotony of [training] camp was so oppressive that without the diversions of whiskey and women, those of us who were wired for activity and no more than six hours sleep a night might have gone berserk."[22]

Death

Stabler died of colon cancer on July 8, 2015, at the age of 69. He had been diagnosed with the disease in February 2015. After some initial confusion when The Tuscaloosa News leaked a draft obituary for Stabler before word of his death could be confirmed, his family confirmed his death in a statement issued on July 9.[23][24]

In February 2016, The New York Times reported that researchers at Boston University discovered high Stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in Stabler's brain after his death.[25] He was buried at Pine Rest Cemetery in Foley, Alabama.

See also

References

  1. ^ Hoffman, Benjamin (February 6, 2016). "After Revelation He Had C.T.E., Ken Stabler Is a Poignant Hall of Fame Addition" – via www.nytimes.com.
  2. ^ "Ken Stabler". Oakland Raiders. Archived from the original on July 18, 2011. Retrieved September 3, 2008.
  3. ^ "University of Alabama official team statistics, 1965" (PDF). Retrieved May 2, 2010.
  4. ^ "Bear Bryant 'simply the best there ever was'". ESPN. Retrieved September 3, 2008.
  5. ^ "Ken Stabler". baseball-reference.com. Sports Reference LLC. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  6. ^ "Ken Stabler Signs Raider Contract". The Pensacola News. Associated Press. March 21, 1968. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  7. ^ "Stabler Joins Spokane Club". Idaho State Journal. Associated Press. November 10, 1968. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  8. ^ "Spokane Shockers (1969)". gnfafootball.org. Archived from the original on December 4, 2017. Retrieved December 4, 2017.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  9. ^ Tinley, Scott (October 13, 2010). "The legend of Kenny Stabler". si.com. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  10. ^ Hayes, Ed (November 30, 1968). "It's Buddy-Buddy In T-Bowl Title Tilt at 8". Orlando Evening Star. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  11. ^ "Stabler Quits Because of Attitude". The Anniston Star. Associated Press. July 30, 1969. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  12. ^ Smith, George (November 19, 1969). "Remember Snake? He's On His Way Back". The Anniston Star. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  13. ^ "Stabler Plans Grid Return". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Associated Press. January 17, 1970. p. 22. Retrieved December 4, 2017.
  14. ^ "Pats put away Chargers for fourth Super Bowl berth in seven years". ESPN. January 20, 2008. Retrieved September 2, 2008.
  15. ^ "Top 100 Modern Quarterbacks 40–21". Football Nation. July 26, 2012. Archived from the original on October 30, 2012. Retrieved October 13, 2012.
  16. ^ Williamson, Bill (July 11, 2008). "Ex-Raiders star Stabler leaves radio gig". ESPN. Archived from the original on October 9, 2008. Retrieved September 3, 2008.
  17. ^ Inabinett, Mark (March 4, 2013). "Ken Stabler 'just trying to pay the rent' with golf tournament". al.com. Retrieved March 31, 2013.
  18. ^ "Lung Brush". Retrieved September 3, 2008.
  19. ^ "LegendsL Jake 'The Snake' Roberts!". Pro Wrestling Daily. March 10, 2008. Archived from the original on June 8, 2008. Retrieved September 3, 2008.
  20. ^ "NFL Street Legend: Kenny Stabler". IGN Sports. November 18, 2003. Retrieved July 14, 2012.
  21. ^ Dickey, Glenn (June 5, 2005). "Catching up with Kenny Stabler: Avoiding Snake eyes". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved September 3, 2008.
  22. ^ Stabler, Ken (September 1986). Snake. Doubleday. p. 2. ISBN 0385234503.
  23. ^ "UPDATE: Oakland Raiders QB Ken Stabler, 69, Dies From Stage 4 Colon Cancer". cbslocal.com.
  24. ^ Sinclair Broadcast Group. "CONFIRMED: Kenny Stabler Passes Away". WPMI. Archived from the original on July 10, 2015.
  25. ^ "Ken Stabler, a Magnetic N.F.L. Star, Was Sapped of Spirit by C.T.E." The New York Times.

Further reading

  • Stabler, Ken; Berry Stainback (1986). Snake: The Candid Autobiography of Football's Most Outrageous Renegade. Doubleday. ISBN 0-385-23450-3.

External links

1965 Alabama Crimson Tide football team

The 1965 Alabama Crimson Tide football team (variously "Alabama", "UA" or "Bama") represented the University of Alabama in the 1965 NCAA University Division football season. It was the Crimson Tide's 71st overall and 32nd season as a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The team was led by head coach Bear Bryant, in his eighth year, and played their home games at Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Legion Field in Birmingham and Ladd Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. They finished season with nine wins, one loss and one tie (9–1–1 overall, 6–1–1 in the SEC), as SEC champions and with a victory over Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. Alabama was also recognized as national champions by the AP Poll after their Orange Bowl win.

Alabama opened the season ranked No. 5, but were upset by Georgia 18–17 in the first game of the season. They rebounded with their first win of the season over Tulane and followed that with a 17–16 win over Ole Miss in a game in which Alabama had to rally from a nine-point fourth quarter deficit for the victory. The next week, the Crimson Tide defeated Vanderbilt in Nashville before they returned home for their rivalry game against Tennessee. Against the Volunteers, the score was deadlocked 7–7 in the closing seconds, but Alabama had driven to the Tennessee four-yard line. Ken Stabler believing that it was third down, threw the ball out of bounds with six seconds left to stop the clock. However, it was actually fourth down, possession went to Tennessee, and the game ended in a tie.

After the tie, the Crimson Tide won five in a row over Florida State, Mississippi State, LSU, South Carolina and Auburn en route to Bryant's fourth SEC title at Alabama. Because the Associated Press was holding its vote until after the bowl games instead of before for the first time, No. 4 Alabama still had a chance to win the national championship when they played No. 3 Nebraska in the Orange Bowl. On New Year's Day, No. 1 Michigan State lost in the Rose Bowl and No. 2 Arkansas lost in the Cotton Bowl Classic, and Alabama defeated Nebraska 39–28 in the Orange Bowl and captured its third AP National Championship in five years.

1966 Alabama Crimson Tide football team

The 1966 Alabama Crimson Tide football team (variously "Alabama", "UA" or "Bama") represented the University of Alabama in the 1966 NCAA University Division football season. It was the Crimson Tide's 72nd overall and 33rd season as a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The team was led by head coach Bear Bryant, in his ninth year, and played their home games at Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Legion Field in Birmingham and Ladd Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. They finished season undefeated with eleven wins (11–0 overall, 6–0 in the SEC), as SEC co-champions and with a victory over Nebraska in the Sugar Bowl.

Alabama opened the season with a victory over Louisiana Tech in Birmingham and followed that with a victory at Ole Miss for their first conference win of the season. The Crimson Tide then returned home and defeated Clemson in the first Tuscaloosa game of the season before they traveled to Knoxville for their annual rival game against Tennessee. In the game, Alabama trailed the Volunteers 10–0 in the fourth quarter before they rallied for an 11–10 victory that saw Tennessee miss a game-winning field goal in the final minute of play.

Alabama then alternated home games between Birmingham and Tuscaloosa over the next four weeks and defeated Vanderbilt, Mississippi State, LSU and South Carolina in each game. After they defeated Southern Miss in their annual Mobile game, the Crimson Tide defeated Auburn in the Iron Bowl and captured a share of the SEC championship. In the January that followed, Alabama then defeated Nebraska in the Sugar Bowl and finished the season undefeated. Although they were the only undefeated and untied college team at the conclusion of the year, Alabama was not selected as national champions for the season. On the 1966 squad, Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi stated: "I don't know, we haven't played Alabama yet" when asked how it felt to have the world's greatest football team for the season after his Packers won Super Bowl I.

1967 Alabama Crimson Tide football team

The 1967 Alabama Crimson Tide football team (variously "Alabama", "UA" or "Bama") represented the University of Alabama in the 1967 NCAA University Division football season. It was the Crimson Tide's 73rd overall and 34th season as a member of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The team was led by head coach Bear Bryant, in his 10th year, and played their home games at Denny Stadium in Tuscaloosa, Legion Field in Birmingham and Ladd Stadium in Mobile, Alabama. They finished season with eight wins, two losses and one tie (8–2–1 overall, 5–1 in the SEC) and with a loss against Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl Classic.

During the spring practice sessions, five African American students attempted to walk-on to the football team. Two of the five, Dock Rone and Andrew Pernell participated in the annual A-Day Game. Although none of the five made it to the varsity squad, their participation as part of the team marked the beginnings of the desegregation of the football program that culminated in the signing of Wilbur Jackson to an athletic scholarship in 1970.

Alabama opened the season ranked #2, but tied unranked Florida State at Birmingham in a game that snapped a 17-game winning streak and surprised many pundits. They rebounded from the tie with victories over Southern Miss in their annual Mobile game, Ole Miss in their first conference game and Vanderbilt in their first road game of the season. In their fifth game against Tennessee, Alabama was defeated 24–13 at Legion Field. The defeat ended a 25-game unbeaten streak for the Crimson Tide that dated back to the 1965 season and was the first for the Volunteers over Alabama since their 1960 season.

After their loss to Tennessee, Alabama again rebounded and won their final five regular season games. After they defeated Clemson at Memorial Stadium, they returned to Tuscaloosa where they defeated Mississippi State on homecoming. The Crimson Tide next defeated LSU at Tiger Stadium, South Carolina in Tuscaloosa, and Auburn in the Iron Bowl after Ken Stabler had his famous, 47-yard "run in the mud" touchdown to win the game. In the January that followed, Alabama lost to Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl Classic.

1967 Sugar Bowl

The 1967 Sugar Bowl, part of the 1966 bowl game season, was played on Monday, January 2, at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, Louisiana. Undefeated Alabama Crimson Tide of the Southeastern Conference (SEC) met the Nebraska Cornhuskers of the Big Eight Conference (Big 8). Alabama was favored by nine points, and won 34–7.

1968 Cotton Bowl Classic

The 1968 Cotton Bowl Classic, part of the 1967 bowl game season, took place on January 1, 1968, at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. The competing teams were the Alabama Crimson Tide, representing the Southeastern Conference (SEC), and the Texas A&M Aggies, representing the Southwest Conference (SWC) as conference champions. Texas A&M won the game 20–16.

1968 Oakland Raiders season

The 1968 Oakland Raiders season was the team's ninth season in both Oakland and the American Football League. It saw the team try to improve upon its 13–1 record from 1967. They ultimately finished one game short of matching that year's result; their 12–2 finish still ensured that they would lead the league in wins for a second consecutive year. They were led by third-year coach John Rauch.

The season would feature a growing rivalry between the Raiders and the New York Jets (the latter led by superstar quarterback Joe Namath). The two teams would meet twice in 1968. The first meeting, a regular-season contest, saw the Raiders complete a stunning fourth-quarter comeback over the Jets. The contest, known today as the Heidi Game, remains one of the most famous in AFL/NFL history. The two teams would also meet in the 1968 AFL Championship Game; Namath's Jets would emerge victorious in a 27–23 upset. The Jets would ultimately upset the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III.

The 1968 season is also notable for a few changes to the team including the additions of George Atkinson, Art Shell, and Ken Stabler. All three players would eventually win a championship with the Raiders in 1976. Additionally, Shell in 1989, and Stabler in 2016, were both inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

1974 Oakland Raiders season

The 1974 Oakland Raiders season was the team's 15th season in Oakland and fifth in the National Football League. The team would post a superb 12–2 record; the campaign's two losses would be by a total of four points. The Raiders' record (the team's best since 1969) would ensure their fourth AFC West title in five years.

For the second straight campaign, the Raiders exacted revenge upon the team that had eliminated them in the prior year's playoffs. This time, Oakland toppled the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Miami Dolphins, by a score of 28–26, in the playoffs' Divisional round. Quarterback Kenny Stabler threw a last-minute winning touchdown pass to running back Clarence Davis in what has come to be known as the "Sea of Hands" game.

For the second straight season, however, the Raiders lost in the AFC Championship Game. They were upset, 24–13, by the eventual champion Pittsburgh Steelers. While the Raiders led 10–3 at the end of the third quarter, a defensive meltdown would allow the Steelers to score 21 points in the final frame.

The 2006 edition of Pro Football Prospectus listed the 1974 Raiders as one of their "Heartbreak Seasons", in which teams "dominated the entire regular season only to falter in the playoffs, unable to close the deal." Pro Football Prospectus states, The John Madden Raiders were a consistently good regular season team, but the playoffs were a different story. The 1972 season came to an end with the painful Immaculate Reception game. The 1973 Raiders ended Miami's 18-game winning streak during the regular season but lost to the Dolphins in the AFC Championship game. In 1974, the Raiders seemed to finally have all the pieces."

Despite the disappointment at the end of the 1974 season, Pro Football Prospectus continues, "[t]he Raiders persevered, keeping the team's core together the next several seasons. In 1975, they again fell to the Steelers in the AFC title game, but caught a break in the 1976 AFC Championship, when they cruised to a 24–7 victory over Pittsburgh, who were without running backs Franco Harris and Rocky Bleier. Finally, in the Super Bowl, they did not waste their opportunity, crushing the Vikings 32–14 behind Ken Stabler and Clarence Davis."

"The Autumn Wind", a poem written by former NFL Films President and co-founder Steve Sabol, became the unofficial team anthem of the Raiders, and was first used for the team's official team yearbook film in 1974. It was narrated by John Facenda, and dubbed "The Battle Hymn of the Raider Nation".

1976 Oakland Raiders season

The 1976 Oakland Raiders season was the team's 17th season, and 7th in the National Football League.

After having appeared in the three previous AFC Championship Games – and having lost all three—the 1976 Raiders finally won the conference championship, and went on to win their first Super Bowl.

After posting a 13–1 regular season record and winning their sixth AFC West championship in seven seasons, the Raiders won against both the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers to achieve the team's second Super Bowl berth. Then, on January 9, 1977, at the Rose Bowl, the Raiders won Super Bowl XI by rolling over the Minnesota Vikings 32–14. With this victory, the Raiders achieved a 16–1 overall record.

In 2012, the 1976 Oakland Raiders were named the greatest team of all time by NFL.com's "Bracketology"; a 15-day, six-round fan vote tournament that featured the 64 greatest teams from the Super Bowl era. Oakland beat the 2000 Baltimore Ravens in the final round by a .8% margin.

1977 Oakland Raiders season

The 1977 Oakland Raiders season was the team's 18th season overall, and 8th season since joining the NFL. The Raiders entered the season as the defending Super Bowl champions.

The 1977 Raiders reached the AFC Championship Game for the fifth consecutive season, and their sixth time in eight years. They lost the AFC Championship, however, to the division rival Denver Broncos.

The 1977 Raiders set a professional football record with 681 rushing attempts. Fullback Mark van Eeghen 324 times for 1273 yards, and running back Clarence Davis ran 194 times for 787 yards.

1979 Oakland Raiders season

The 1979 Oakland Raiders season was their 10th in the league, and 20th overall. They matched their previous season's output of 9–7. Oakland started off 1–3, rallied to 6–4, then fell to 6–6 after an upset loss to the Kansas City chiefs. Oakland then went on a three-game winning streak that featured a 14–10 defensive struggle in Denver, a comeback win in New Orleans after trailing 35–14 in the 3rd quarter, and a 19–14 win over the Cleveland Browns. In the season finale the Raiders stood at 9–6 in need of a win at home against the Seattle Seahawks to have a shot at a wildcard playoff spot. However, it was not to be, and Seattle quarterback Jim Zorn's 314 yards and 2 TD passes eliminated the Raiders, 29–24.

Continental Football League

The Continental Football League (COFL) was a professional American football league that operated in North America from 1965 through 1969. It was established following the collapse of the original United Football League, and hoped to become the major force in professional football outside the National Football League (NFL) and the American Football League (AFL). It owed its name, at least in part, to the Continental League, a proposed third Major League Baseball organization that influenced MLB significantly (but never played a single game).

Four Continental Football League contributors are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the most of any league not considered a major league: coach Bill Walsh, quarterback Ken Stabler, Doak Walker and Steve Van Buren (the last two of whom were inducted as players but were coaches in this league). Sam Wyche, Bob Kuechenberg, Garo Yepremian and Otis Sistrunk were among the other players and coaches who would later gain fame in the NFL, while a few others, such as Don Jonas and Tom Wilkinson, would emerge as stars in the Canadian Football League.

Dave Casper

David John Casper (born February 2, 1952) nicknamed "The Ghost," is a former American football player best known for being a prominent member of the Oakland Raiders in the National Football League (NFL). He was a tight end and also played as an offensive lineman. Casper has been inducted into both the College Football Hall of Fame (2012) and the Pro Football Hall of Fame (2002).

Ghost to the Post

Ghost to the Post is a significant play in NFL history. It refers specifically to a 42-yard pass from Ken Stabler to Dave Casper, nicknamed "The Ghost" after Casper the Friendly Ghost, that set up a game-tying field goal in the final seconds of regulation in a double-overtime AFC divisional playoff game played between Casper's Oakland Raiders and the then-Baltimore Colts on December 24, 1977. Casper also caught the last pass of the game, a 10-yard touchdown pass. The game is currently the fifth-longest in NFL history, and has become synonymous with the play that made it famous.

List of Oakland Raiders starting quarterbacks

These quarterbacks have started at least one game for the Oakland Raiders of the National Football League. They are listed in order of the date of each player's first start at quarterback for the team.

List of Tennessee Titans starting quarterbacks

These quarterbacks have started at least one game for the Tennessee Titans of the National Football League. They are listed in order of the date of each player's first start at quarterback for the Titans.

Richard Todd (American football)

Richard Todd (born November 19, 1953) is a former professional American football quarterback for the New York Jets and New Orleans Saints from 1976 to 1985. Todd, like former Jets quarterback Joe Namath and Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler, played for the University of Alabama's Crimson Tide under coach Paul "Bear" Bryant.

Spokane Shockers

The Spokane Shockers were a professional American football team based in Spokane, Washington. The team was founded in 1967 as the Victoria Steelers of the Continental Football League but transferred to Spokane during the 1967–68 offseason. While in Spokane the team played its home games in Joe Albi Stadium. The Shockers had a farm team arrangement with the American Football League's Oakland Raiders, and their most notable player during their brief existence was future Hall of Fame quarterback Ken Stabler.As a result of the demise of the CFL, Spokane was first forced to suspend operations and then cease them altogether. As late as June 1970, plans to continue operating the CFL's Pacific Division as a separate entity were considered viable, but these plans were abandoned when the Sacramento Capitols folded in July and the Portland Loggers stopped responding to phone calls by August.

The Sea of Hands

The Sea of Hands refers to a significant play during the 1974–75 NFL playoffs. The Miami Dolphins were facing the Oakland Raiders in an American Football Conference (AFC) Divisional playoff game on December 21, 1974 at Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum. The game was ultimately decided in the final seconds by a now-iconic play in which Oakland quarterback Ken Stabler launched an 8-yard touchdown pass to running back Clarence Davis, who seemed tightly covered but somehow wrestled the ball away from multiple Miami defenders to secure victory for the Raiders, thus effectively ending Miami’s historic run of Super Bowl appearances.

Ken Stabler—awards, championships, and honors

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