On July 9th, 2015 8:09 p.m., we reported on perhaps one of the saddest things this site will ever publish -- Alabama legend Kenny Stabler had passed away at his home in Gulfport, Mississippi.
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."
Over the next few days we would commemorate the kind of man he was and what he meant culturally to Alabama, Crimson Tide fans, and the laid-back/hard-charging Gulf coast that he loved so much:
The Stabler Package: Some Sadness, A Toast, And A Smile - Saying Goodbye To The Snake - Roll 'Bama Roll
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.
Get Drunk With Kenny Stabler... Sort Of - Roll 'Bama Roll
Kenny Stabler had a bar in Gulf Shores where the Original Oyster House is now, and he called it Lefty’s. Dad was a regular, and being that we only had these two days together, so was I. I saw something in that life, that bar life, that my young eyes had never seen before: people were having a good time not giving a damn what people thought about them.
Kenny Stabler: Life...Full Throttle - Roll 'Bama Roll
Make no mistake, Stabler was no angel, and all memorials aside, Ken Stabler the Man was deeply flawed. After his third DUI in 2008, even his most ardent boosters could offer no defense. But these failings, these human frailties, only endeared and deepened our understanding of the man who refused to be put on a pedestal, a man who spent most of his life proving he was an average Joe, not so much to his adoring public as to himself.
A man of contradictions, but so incredibly in tune with what it is to be alive. He was both tougher than a pine knot and as tender as a soft-shelled crab, a delicacy of his beloved Gulf Coast. A lover and a fighter, a gridiron warrior-poet who pinned back the accelerator and let it rip in each of his endeavors, holy or otherwise.
We looked back at some of his most famous moments as both a member of the Crimson Tide and while donning the black and silver in Oakland:
Inside The Play: An Xs and Os Tribute To Kenny Stabler - Roll 'Bama Roll
Today we feature some of Kenny's career-defining moments...including his first snap at Alabama, and his last regular season game - an Iron Bowl victory with the Run in the Mud. ... An NFL reprise of the "run in the mud" in 1972 that should have won the AFC Championship, the Sea of Hands pass, and the perfect throws that made up the win in the "Ghost To The Post."
His long-overdue recognition and enshrinement in the NFL Hall of Fame.
Kenny Stabler to be enshrined in NFL Hall of Fame today - Roll 'Bama Roll
Mortality has a way of focusing people on the achievements of a lifetime, though, and, this year the Seniors' Committee did the right thing to correct an historic injustice; they bypassed the onerous NFL HOF voting procedures, pulled rank, and sent Stabler's name to the complete committee.
Once his nomination reached the Hall, it was a foregone conclusion: Stabler would earn his bronze bust in Canton and immortality.
It's About Time: Kenny Stabler To Be Enshrined In The NFL Hall of Fame - Roll 'Bama Roll
“In the big games, he was big,” Madden said in a halftime ceremony honoring the late Stabler last season at O.co Coliseum. “In the tough games, he was tough. The hot games, you know, when it really got heated? He was the coolest guy on the field. And I always said that if I had one quarterback to make a drive the length of a field at the end of the game, to win that game, that guy would be Ken Stabler. No. 12. The Snake. “Thanks for the memories. We miss you, we love you, and we’ll see you in the Hall of Fame.”
Six months later, we would add a depressing-but-important coda to his life and death: the Snake’s underlying CTE and brain trauma.
Report: Ken Stabler Suffered From Stage 3 CTE - Roll 'Bama Roll
On a scale of 1 to 4, Stabler had high Stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E., the degenerative brain disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head, according to researchers at Boston University. The relationship between concussions and brain degeneration is still poorly understood, and some experts caution that other factors, like unrelated mood problems or dementia, might contribute to symptoms experienced by those later found to have had C.T.E.
Today we finally pull it all together in one place for you. Spend a lazy Sunday at those links for tons of interviews, videos, and articles; have a laugh and a cry and a celebration of Kenny Stabler’s 69 eventful years on earth.
69 days ‘til Alabama football.