Former Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken "The Snake" Stabler died on July 8 as a result of his recent bout with colon cancer. He was 69 years old.
Ken "The Snake" Stabler has passed away.
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AL.com Alabama Crimson Tide reporter Michael Casagrande confirmed the news on July 9. Multiple sources told Casagrande that Stabler, a former Crimson Tide and Oakland Raiders quarterback, died on Wednesday after a bout with colon cancer.
Stabler's family uploaded a statement on his official 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.
"He passed peacefully surrounded by the people he loved most, including his three daughters and longtime partner, as some of his favorite songs played in the background, such as Lynyrd Skynyrd's 'Sweet Home Alabama' and Van Morrison's 'Leaves Falling Down.'
"He quietly battled Stage 4 colon cancer since being diagnosed in February 2015.
"He wanted to make a difference in the lives of others in life and death. At his reqeust, his brain and spinal cord were donated to Boston University's Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center to support research for degenerative brain diseases in athletes.
"He was a kind, generous and unselfish man, never turning down an autograph request for an opportunity to help someone in need. A great quarterback, he was an even greater father to this three girls and grandfather to his two 'grand snakes.'
"We are grateful for the tremendous love and support from friends and fans. We ask that you please respect our privacy during this difficult time as we grieve this heartbreaking loss."
Lester Smith attended Foley High School, the same school Stabler attended as a three-sport star. Smith, who became a football coach at the school, also raved about Stabler, per Casagrande.
"He was just such a competitor and was just so talented...I'll always remember his smile and his kindness," Smith told AL.com on Thursday.
Stabler's former Crimson Tide teammate, Scott Hunter, told Casagrande he was "always a fun guy to be around."
Hunter's fondest memory of Stabler during their college days was his 53-yard touchdown run on a muddy field against the Auburn Tigers in 1967 to win that year's Iron Bowl, 7-3, per AL.com:
"With the run in the mud, I was a redshirt sophomore standing on the sidelines with a clipboard. He came around that right end and started running, and I thought someone surely on the Auburn team would catch him but in that mud, everyone was the same speed.
"He just kept running and running. I stepped out on the field about two or three paces, then a big guy stepped out in front of me. Of course it was Coach (Bear) Bryant. He blocked my view and I finally looked around him and Kenny kept running. He might score. And he did."
The Raiders drafted Stabler in the second round of the 1968 NFL draft, per ESPN.
Stabler would go on to spend 10 of his 15 pro seasons in Oakland. He was proclaimed NFL MVP in 1974 and made four Pro Bowl team selections, per ESPN.
Stabler helped the Raiders win Super Boxl XI. Raiders owner Mark Davis issued a statement on Stabler's passing on the team's official website on July 9:
"The Raiders are deeply saddened by the passing of the great Ken Stabler. He was a cherished member of the Raider family and personfied 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 Raiders fans everywhere.
"Our sincerest thoughts and prayers go out to Kenny's family."
For his part, John Madden, who coached Stabler when he played for the Raiders, also issued a statement of his own on the Raiders' official website on Thursday:
"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 than 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."
After Stabler left the Raiders in 1979, he spent two seasons with the then-Houston Oilers and three seasons with the New Orleans Saints. He retired in 1984, per ESPN.
Stabler passed for 27,938 yards and amassed a 96-49-1 record as a starting quarterback in his 15-year NFL career, per ESPN.
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