Friday, July 10, 2015

R.I.P. Snake

Rumors of Raider Take's demise have been greatly exaggerated...

Alas, it took something tragic to get me off my ass and back on the horse: the unfortunate passing of Raiders legend Ken Stabler. 

I grew up in the 1970s in a Raiders household. I was young, but old enough to know that the team was something special, a rogue band of champions with a penchant for both heartbreak and miracle. 

At the center of it all was The Snake, dropping back to pass, the epitome of cool with his left-handed delivery, ruffian's beard and uncanny ability to pull rabbits out of hats.

Colin Cowherd of ESPN Radio had a great opening take on the Snake and the Raiders this morning, I'm hoping it will be available on Podbean later today (he flubs a bit at first using Bradshaw's name instead of Stabler, but hey, that's live radio). For those of us old enough to remember such things, Cowherd eloquently encapsulates what it was like to be a young fan back in the 1970s, with the Raiders playing late afternoon games on television against rivals like the Chargers, Dolphins and Steelers, the lengthening shadows as the games wore on, and the seemingly always last-minute comebacks or heartbreaks. If you lived it, you know how indelible those memories are. There was nothing like the NFL in the 1970s, and Stabler's Raiders were the team most emblematic of the era.

If Joe Namath belongs in the Hall of Fame (and he's there), then certainly so does Kenny Stabler. It's the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Stats. Few were more famous than Stabler at the time, and perhaps no quarterback was at the center of such a glorious mix of triumphs, controversies, comebacks, last-minute thrills and colorful off-field exploits.

I'll have to come out of hibernation soon regarding the upcoming season, but today is a day of remembrance for a great Raider who will be missed.