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The Stabler Package: Some Sadness, A Toast, And A Smile - Saying Goodbye To The Snake

An Alabama and Oakland legend has passed away, leaving the world diminished in his absence. But, you have to think that when given the choice, Kenny Stabler would rather we celebrate his life with cheers rather than mourn his passing with tears.

The nature of life is that we create our own meaning.

Human beings are both cursed and blessed with the knowledge of our own mortality. For some, the awareness that time ticks by, leaving us another second away from The End, is simply too much: Life is too serious; the business of living becomes a chore as we grasp at the ephemeral to strangle as much experience and "living" out of each waking moment.  Foresight is our bane.

For other folks, life works a little differently.

Ken Stabler, as always, did things a little bit different.

The meaning of Stabler's life was to simply live and enjoy living. A funny thing happened to Stabler while he was taking his life's journey: Stabler did well by doing good. He always had a smile on his face, and that smile came from enriching the lives of others -- from his philanthropy, to the gracious way he treated fans, to entertaining us for decades on the gridiron and in the booth - the latter, where he shared stories (and our hangovers on a too-early Saturday morning game.)

A consummate gentlemen, a hell-raiser, a humble country boy from Foley, a ferocious competitor, a good man: Stabler brought so much joy to the lives of others simply by being himself. For the player and for my lost boyhood hero, I do mourn. But, for the sum of the man and his love of life, for the mischief-making raconteur who offered so much, in so many ways to the Alabama family, I raise my glass.

Cheers, Snake. We will miss the hell out of you.

Stabler Remembered

Raiders on the Passing of Ken Stabler

"When you think about the Raiders you think about Ken Stabler. Kenny loved life. It is a sad day for all Raiders."

John Madden nailed it regarding one of the Raiders most colorful players on some of the NFL's most colorful teams. The Snake was a two-time AFC POY, an NFL MVP, an NFL passing champion, and he led Oakland to their first title in Super Bowl XI, where Stabler was named the MVP. After leaving Oakland he had a brief stint as an Oiler, and an equally brief stop in New Orleans, where he finished his career. Those last few years aside, Kenny Stabler is synonymous with "Raiders," and for those in Silver and Black, he is the Raider.

UA confirms former Alabama, Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stab - - FOX6 WBRC Birmingham, AL

"The UA family sends its deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Kenny Stabler. One of the best players to ever wear a uniform for the Crimson Tide, he will always be remembered for his talent, his hard work and his love for the game he played so well at every level. We will miss him greatly."

While Stabler is best remembered for an NFL career filled with elusive plays and late-game heroics, he was an Alabama legend first. Later today Ole Whistlebritches will have a send-off for the captain of the 1966 "Missing Ring" team, perhaps the best team of the Silver Age and certainly the best team of that era to never win a title. Sadly, voters punished the Tide for George Wallace and the State's stance against civil rights, preventing Stabler from helming a national title team (although he was on the bench behind Namath and Sloan with the '64 and '65 title teams.)

UA confirms former Alabama, Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stab - - FOX6 WBRC Birmingham, AL

"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."

That FOX story has some fantastic quotes from players, coaches, friends and family of Stabler. It's well worth your time. The best part of the family's statement though is what the Snake's iPod was jamming in his final hours: Not like Stabler needed to be ensconced further into Alabama lore, but playing "Sweet Home Alabama" on his death bed absolutely brings it home.

XOXO Stabler Foundation :: Fundraising and HOPE for a variety of causes

The XOXO Game Plan for Hope brings caring and focused people together to organize, promote and execute entertaining fundraisers to bring awareness, funding and HOPE to a variety of causes.

Speaking of Stabler's family, they have requested that in lieu of flowers a donation be made to the Stabler Foundation, where the funds will be directed towards research and treatment of colon cancer, complications from which took Stabler's life. The Stabler Foundation has a long track record of philanthropy, from head trauma to cancer prevention to children's charities like the Ronald McDonald House, so your money is guaranteed to go to a good cause regardless. (As an aside, Stabler has donated his brain to study the effects of athletics-related head injuries. Since Stabler was of an advanced age, this will be very useful in studying the long-lasting effects of concussions in older former athletes. In most cases, we usually see younger and middle aged athletes making such a donation, and very often after taking their life.)

Remembering Ken Stabler

A look back at quarterback Ken Stabler's career.

The Raiders have gone all out. Oakland's official website has no less than four stories honoring Stabler, as well as several multimedia presentations. The above is a slideshow of some of his greatest moments in Silver and Black.

VIDEO: Tribute to Ken Stabler

VIDEO: Tribute to Ken Stabler Raiders Owner Mark Davis: "The Raiders are deeply saddened by the passing of the great Ken Stabler. He was a cherished member of the Raider family and personified what it means to be a Raider."

Also from the Raiders website, is this partial memorial, partial hype video - just an all-around great celebration of Kenny Stabler. As with the slideshow, absolutely worth your traffic.

NFL Network to air Ken Stabler Raiders greatest games Friday - Silver And Black Pride

In honor of the late great Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler who passed away Thursday at the age of 69, the NFL Network will air two of the NFL's Greatest games which he orchestrated with the Raiders.

Finally, the NFL Network will be honoring The Snake tonight with two of his greatest games.

At 7 CT, the network will air the 1974 "Sea of Hands" game, where Oakland upended the juggernaut defending champion Miami Dolphins 28-26 in the Divisional Playoffs. The two teams slugged it out, but with two minutes left, trailing 26-21, Stabler engineered a game-winning, come-from-behind victory. That game-winning score is still considered the loudest moment in Oakland Coliseum history.

Ninety minutes later, at 8:30 CT, Stabler's other famous playoff win takes front and center: the double-overtime victory over the Baltimore Colts in the 1977 AFC Divisional playoffs. His fourth quarter, come-from-behind, one-minute-drill, game-tying drive is better known as "Ghost To The Post," and ranks up there with the Immaculate Reception in importance, if not improbability.


That's it for today's JP. Whatever it is you do to honors Stabler's memory this weekend -be it giving the Snake a shoutout during happy hour or settling back with the kids to watch some of his greatest moments, just be sure to do so with a smile on your face and a love for the moment.

It's the way he lived, and it's the way he'd want it.