What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
If you are under 30, you never heard of Ken Stabler. But when you talk about the “star” great quarterbacks of the 1970, you can’t have that conversation without the mention of his name. There was the mechanical efficiency of Bob Griese. There was the swashbuckling of Fran Tarkenton. There was the wholesomeness of Roger Staubach. There was even the downright “good ol’ boy” nature of Terry Bradshaw.
But nobody personified “cool” like Ken Stabler.
I hated the Oakland Raiders. There’s no point in hating that team now because they don’t matter. But there was a time when the Raiders were the winningest team in all of professional sports. Owner Al Davis was the definition of a maverick, his football team was part professional athletes and part prison chain-gang, and Raider games always looked like the could easily turn into a bar fight at any moment.
And the ring-leader of this successful chaos was Ken Stabler.
Hating those 1970’s Raiders was kind of like being the captain of the high-school chess club who hated cheerleaders who wouldn’t date you. The Raiders were the team you didn’t want to play, but you wanted to be them. Remember that the AFC of the 1970s was dominated by the “undefeateable” Miami Dolphins and the 4-time Super Bowl winning Pittsburgh Steelers. Over in the NFC, you had the “America’s Team” Dallas Cowboys and the “Purple People Eaters” in Minnesota. Make no mistake; the Vikings of the 1970’s were one of the greatest teams of all-time despite the fact they never won a Super Bowl.
In fact, it was the Raiders’ dismantling of the Vikings in the Super Bowl XI which signaled Oakland’s arrival. Until then, it was easy to dismiss them as just a “band of thugs,” even though Ken Stabler was the NFL’s Most Valuable Player two years earlier in 1974. The Vikings were a much better team “on paper”, but in worlds of San Francisco newspaperman Ray Ratto, “the Raiders hit them with a bag of chisels and walked over their bones.” With the Raiders and Stabler, it wasn’t about statistics; it was “Just win, baby.”
When people talk about dynasties in the NFL, they always mention the Steelers of the 1970s, the 49ers of the 1980s, and possibly even the Patriots of today. The Raiders always get over looked in that discussion despite the fact they won three Super Bowls between 1977 and 1983. The Raiders, much like Stabler, were often overlooked because of their “biker gang” persona, which didn’t make them any less great. Granted, Stabler was traded by the Raiders in 1979, but head coach John Madden always ascribed the success of the Raiders to Ken Stabler.
Mike Greenberg said something this morning on ESPN which is sadly true. The NFL of the 1970’s had a distinct advantage of the league of today. It was full of “larger than life characters,” which made the NFL of yesteryear much more fun. Sure, Tom Brady is on my list of thirty greatest quarterbacks and Stabler isn’t, but there was no “larger” figure than Ken Stabler. Brady, is a good, dependable cup of coffee, but Stabler was that special moment reserved for the crack of a cold beer on a hot day.
It many ways, you could say Ken Stabler was a “rock star” in shoulder pads. You can go to any other sports website to day and get the run down statistically and otherwise on “The Snake’s” career, but it is exclusively at Dubsism where we can now reveal one of the big secrets of the 1970s; Ken Stabler was REALLY a rock star. Many people never knew that when he wasn’t quarterbacking the Oakland Raiders, Ken Stabler was part of the Swedish super-group ABBA.
Face it, nobody has ever actually seen the man called “Björn Ulvaeus” and Stabler in the same room together.