The Oakland Raiders, in the second round of the 1968 AFL-NFL Draft, selected quarterback Ken Stabler. A three-time All-America at Alabama, Stabler spent his first two seasons in the pros on the Raiders inactive/reserve squad, before joining the team in 1970 as a backup to Oakland’s All-Pro quarterback Daryle Lamonica.
Although his playing time steadily increased each of the next three seasons, it wasn’t until 1973 and after the Raiders lost two of their first three games, that Stabler became a starter. That year he went on to lead the Raiders to the AFC Championship game, a 27-10 loss to the Miami Dolphins.
It was, however, the first of a string of five consecutive years that the Stabler-led Raiders advanced to the AFC title game, and the first of seven consecutive winning seasons with the “Snake” at the helm.
In 1976, Stabler led the league in passing, finishing the season with a remarkable 103.4 passer rating. At the same time, the Raiders earned the right to represent the AFC in Super Bowl XI. In the Super Bowl Stabler completed 12 of 19 passes for 180 yards as the Raiders easily defeated the Minnesota Vikings 32-14.
During his 10 seasons in Oakland, Stabler was named All-Pro twice, All-AFC three times, and selected to play in the Pro Bowl four times. He was named the AFC’s Player of the Year in 1974 and again in 1976. Following the 1979 season the Raiders traded Stabler to the Houston Oilers for quarterback Dan Pastorini. In his first season as the Oilers field general, Stabler passed for 3,202 yards. It was the second time in his career that he passed for more than 3,000 yards in a single season.
Stabler retired after the third game of the 1984 season after struggling through two injury-plagued seasons with the New Orleans Saints. When he retired his 59.85 career pass completion percentage was second only to Joe Montana, who at the time had played just six seasons. Stabler’s 10 consecutive post season games with a touchdown pass was also an NFL record. During his 15 NFL playing seasons, Stabler completed 2,270 passes for 27,938 yards and 194 touchdowns.