I have to admit something. When I discovered legendary Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler passed away earlier this past week, I had no idea he was not in the Hall of Fame.
Unfortunately, I was not lucky enough to watch Stabler play directly. The extent of my knowledge on Stabler’s career was from old stories about his greatness from my elders. Stories that were usually centered on Stabler’s intense rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers throughout the 1970s.
As you can imagine, I was very surprised when I discovered the legend I had heard so much about was still not in the Hall. After hearing so many stories about his greatness, it was unfathomable to me that he wasn’t enshrined in Canton. Naturally, having never seen him play personally, I needed to find out more about his infamous career and why he wasn’t in the Hall of Fame yet.
So, after looking at all of his career stats and sifting through some various clips of his play, I came to one glaring conclusion…
He deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.
Throughout his illustrious 15-year career, Stabler threw for 27,938 yards, made four Pro Bowls, led the NFL in touchdown passes in 1974 and 1976, and won league MVP in 1974. In 1976, he led the Oakland Raiders to a victory in Super Bowl XI and was eventually named to the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team. To put it in a nutshell, he was a great quarterback.
With those stats, why wasn’t Stabler a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame?
Unfortunately, Stabler’s career may never be able to overcome the fact that he may have hung on a bit too long during his career.
After taking over as the full-time starter for the Raiders in 1972, he was excellent for his seven years as the main guy in Oakland. He threw more than 20 touchdown passes in a season four times throughout his career in Oakland, a rare feat at the time. After the 1979 season, the Raiders decided to move on from Stabler and he went to a struggling Houston Oilers team.
Things went poorly in Houston and Stabler wasn’t successful with them. He managed to throw just 27 touchdowns to 46 interceptions during his two years in Houston. He eventually moved on to the New Orleans Saints and things continued to spiral downward. His three years with the Saints were forgettable, to say the least.
He was magnificent with the Raiders, terrible with the Saints and Oilers.
This is the main reason Stabler still hasn’t made the Hall. The world motto is “what have you done for me lately” and Stabler’s latest wasn’t his best. “The Snake” should have saved his best for last in terms of his career.
But this is not how it should be. To ignore the impact he had on the game in the 1970s is absurd and he should be enshrined. His former coach and current Hall of Famer John Madden certainly thinks so. He had fond memories when remembering his former quarterback.
“I’m there and I’m thinking and I’m talking to Kenny during the timeout and he has his helmet cocked back and he’s looking up at the stands and I’m talking to him, ‘Let’s do this, let’s do this,” Madden said. “And he goes, ‘You know what, John? And I thought, ‘Oh, great. He has a play.’ And I said, ‘What?’ And he said, ‘These fans are getting their money’s worth today.
“That’s the way he was. I’m going all over the board over what we should do. And he’s just coolly looking up at the stands.”
Clearly, Stabler needs to be reconsidered for the Hall. His numbers and his peers have spoken and the time is now.
Let the Pro Football Hall of Fame Senior Selection Committee know if you think Stabler should be reconsidered and help this legend get where he deserves.