Ken Stabler, among the greatest quarterbacks in Oakland Raiders history, died Wednesday of complications from colon cancer. He was 69.
Stabler’s family confirmed his death in a Facebook post.
“He passed peacefully surrounded by the people he loved most,” the statement read, “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.’”
Stabler, a former Alabama standout nicknamed “The Snake” for his elusiveness on the field, played for the Raiders from 1970-79, the Houston Oilers from 1980-81, and the New Orleans Saints from 1982-84.
He was AFC player of the year in 1974 and 1976, leading the NFL in passing in the latter season. He also led the Raiders to the first of their three Super Bowl victories.
“He was such a big part of the great Raider success,” Hall of Fame coach John Madden told The Times by phone Thursday, his voice cracking with emotion. “It’s just a shock. You think of all the good times, all the games, all the drives, and how when everything else was the hottest in the heat of the game, he’d be the coolest.”
Raiders owner Mark Davis issued a statement Thursday evening.
“The Raiders are deeply saddened by the passing of the great Ken Stabler,” Davis' statement read. “He was a cherished member of the Raider family and personified 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 Raider fans everywhere. Our sincerest thoughts and prayers go out to Kenny’s family.”
The rest of the family’s statement read:
“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 both life and death. At his request, his brain and spinal cord were donated to Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center to support research for degenerative brain disease in athletes.
“He was a kind, generous and unselfish man, never turning down an autograph request or an opportunity to help someone in need. A great quarterback, he was an even greater father to his 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.
“Funeral Arrangements are pending. In lieu of flowers, we ask that donations be made to the XOXO Stabler Foundation to support research of colon cancer and sports-related head trauma. More Information will be available on Ken Stabler’s Facebook Fan page and the XOXO Stabler Foundation.
“He is survived by his three daughters Kendra Stabler Moyes (husband, Scott), Alexa (fiancé, Hunter Adams) and Marissa; grandsons Jack and Justin Moyes; sister Carolyn Bishop; nephew Scott Bishop; and great nephew and niece Tayler and Payton Bishop. He is preceded in death by his father, Leroy Stabler, and mother, Sally Stabler.”