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Raiders fan Tom Hanks sends emotional letter to Ken Stabler’s daughters

 Fred Biletnikoff, Ken Stabler

Oakland Raiders receiver Fred Biletnikoff and quarterback Ken Stabler, right, each hold up one finger after defeating the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI on Jan. 9, 1977.

(Associated Press)

It’s been a few months since former Oakland Raiders legend Ken Stabler died, but at least one of his fans, actor Tom Hanks, is still thinking about “the Snake.”

Hanks got old-fashioned and sent a typed letter to Stabler’s daughters, Kendra and Alexa, thanking them for sending him some Stabler memorabilia and noting her father’s impact on the Oscar award-winning actor’s own life.

Below is Hanks’ letter:

“Beyond the heroics on the field and, say, a Super Bowl victory, why a young fan takes to any one football player is a mystery. A personal attraction.

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“In Oakland, the capitol of Raider Nation, the years I was a kid there we had everyone from the Black Panthers, the Hell’s Angels, the Zodiac Killer, and Charley O. Finley. And, we had the Raiders...

“Your father, with his left-handedness and those two bad knees displayed a permanent smile of bemusement that said -- win or lose -- “ain’t this fun?” I really did see in him the honor to be found in playing the game, of taking pleasure in the effort.

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“That Ken Stabler came from the likes of Alabama yet played right there in my home town helped me understand the variety found in the USA. Using a pair of pliars to change the channel on my busted up kids TV (it had a few knobs missing) I would tune in San Diego to see your Dad play, or Shea Stadium to see him take on the Jets -- learning that if you were good enough you could do your thing anywhere you wanted.

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“I’m honored to wear the fine bit of Stablerwear you sent along and will continue to offer up to anyone who comes my way, and maybe just asks how I ended up where I am, that you just have to throw deep, baby ...”

Stabler was a named an All-Pro and selected to four Pro Bowls when he played for the Raiders from 1970-79. He continued his career with the Houston Oilers from 1980-81 and the New Orleans Saints from 1982-84.

Stabler died on July 8 from complications of colon cancer. He was 69.

Follow Matt Wilhalme on Twitter @mattwilhalme

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