Noted sports writer Ron Borges has stated the case for the late Ken Stabler's consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in a Talk of Fame Network article.* *Borges recounts one of the greatest comebacks in Raiders history, this one engineered by The Snake on Monday Night Football in 1979.
New Orleans was favored by three points that night of Dec. 3, which if you know anything about football history says more about the Raiders' slippage than the Saints' rise. When New Orleans shot off to a 35-14 lead early in the third quarter, the assumption was the Raiders were done. That seemed particularly so after Stabler threw an interception to linebacker Ken Bordelon with 6:24 left in the quarter and was knocked tipsy trying to make the tackle as Bordelon ran over him for a New Orleans touchdown.
Seeing Stabler glassy eyed, head coach Tom Flores had Jim Plunkett warming up on the sidelines. But when the Raiders got the ball back, Stabler ran by Flores saying, "I got us in this mess. It's my job to get us out.''
And he did.
Stabler threw three touchdown passes in the final 20 minutes, including a 66-yard bomb to Cliff Branch to tie the game in the fourth quarter and an 8-yarder to Branch to win it with less than two minutes to play. It was one of the greatest second-half comebacks in the history of Monday Night Football. When it was over, Stabler was asked how he held things together when all seemed to be collapsing around him.
On July 1, we posted an article about Stabler and the respect he garnered from some of his arch-rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. We crafted the following:
Former Oakland Raiders quarterback Kenny Stabler IS NOT in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He trails Terry Bradshaw's career passing yards total by just 61 yards. The Raiders all-time leading passer threw for more yards than Joe Namath and Bob Griese. Namath, Griese and Bradshaw are in the Hall of Fame, while Stabler is not.
Bradshaw: 27,989 Stabler: 27,938
*Stabler led the Raiders to their first Super Bowl title, a 32-14 win over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI. While Namath only won one Super Bowl, nobody questions Broadway Joe's impact on the game of pro football. His bravado alone gives him clout where his statistics fail him. Bradshaw's and Griese's Super Bowls help put them over the top. *
Stabler led the Raiders to five straight AFC Championship game appearances and was part of numerous thrilling come-from-behind victories including the Ghost to the Post in the 1977 playoffs, the Sea of Hands in the 1974 playoffs, and the Holy Roller during the 1977 regular season.
After Stabler's recent passing, several members of the NFL community and the media took to Twitter to make Stabler's case.* *