Ken Stabler's death revealed just how completely he had lived. Memories poured from those who knew him, or at least had watched him play. It didn't matter if you had gotten to know Stabler in the 1970s or just recently. If the truest sentiments were the most echoed, then we can draw two indelible conclusions: Stabler was daring and Stabler was fun.
Mark Davis released a statement saying that Stabler personified "what it means to be a Raider." The statement from Stabler's former head coach, John Madden, expanded on what that might mean.
I've often said, If I had one drive to win a game to this day, and I had a quarterback to pick, I would pick Kenny. Snake was a lot cooler than I was. He was a perfect quarterback and a perfect Raider. When you think about the Raiders you think about Ken Stabler. Kenny loved life.
Stabler is described as fun-loving and cool, with maverick sensibilities on and off the field. He was every trope of a 1970s NFL quarterback, basically. He was also really good. He helped the Raiders to five conference championship appearances in six seasons from 1973 to 1978. In 1976, he led the team to a Super Bowl championship. That season, his 66.7 percent completion rate, 27 passing touchdowns, 103.4 passer rating and 9.41 yards per attempts all led the NFL. Stabler threw 150 touchdown passes during the 70s -- third-most during that decade. He is the only quarterback who won a Super Bowl during that period who isn't yet in the Hall of Fame.
That may need to change based on the reaction to the news. Here is a sample of the love Stabler received Thursday night, and some of the greatest moments from his career.
Stabler personified fun
So many Stabler stories, corroborated by photographs.
Ken Stabler: A man built for social media, living in a pre-social media world. pic.twitter.com/Vq4RVbBnQr— Chris Burke (@ChrisBurke_SI) July 10, 2015
Condolences to the #Raiders family on passing of iconic QB Kenny Stabler, who said he studied his playbook by light of a jukebox.— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) July 10, 2015
Sad to hear about Kenny Stabler. Used to see him go to the old Inisfree in TTown and pick guitar with whatever band was playing. Loved life.— Bud Elliott (@TomahawkNation) July 10, 2015
Corresponded with mutual friend of Kenny Stabler's. IndState alum who worked for Raiders. Taking news hard: "My first guy. My best guy."— Tom James (@TribStarTJames) July 10, 2015
YOU DAMN RIGHT SNAKE CAN THROW A TOUCHDOWN WITH MOTOR OIL https://t.co/3mvKpkkWur— Ryan Nanni (@celebrityhottub) July 9, 2015
RIP Ken Stabler, Raiders great and a true original. (Photo: James Drake/Sports Illustrated) pic.twitter.com/3KnsPiF3ga— The MMQB (@theMMQB) July 10, 2015
Stabler was once booted from the Alabama football team for "non-conformism." Stabler's father told the Henderson Times-News that his son made the mistake of not telling Bear Bryant he was leaving to campus to see his sick grandmother. Other authorities have it that he was cutting class and partying.
Stabler personified daring
Stabler was the consummate comeback artist during his playing career. He led the NFL in game-winning drives three times during his career, and he led the Raiders from behind in three of his seven playoff wins. He did it all by the seat of his pants. Via the New York Times' obituary:
"He set coaching back 50 years," Casper was quoted as saying by Paul Zimmerman in "The New Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football" (1984).
"He knows everything there is to know on a football field, but when they give him his game plan on Wednesday he probably takes it and throws it in the wastebasket. No one ever suspected how little he knew about the game plan on a particular week.
"I don't think he ever cared about losing. Winning is fine. Losing? So what? He'd rather win the gamble and force a pass in there. He'd rather do it the hard way."
Stabler was involved in some of the biggest plays in football history.
The "Run in the Mud" -- Dec. 2, 1967, Alabama vs. Auburn
"Sea of Hands" -- Dec. 21, 1974, divisional playoff game vs. Dolphins
"Ghost to the Post" -- Dec. 24, 1977, divisional playoff game vs. Colts
"Holy Roller" -- Sept. 10, 1978, Week 2 vs. Chargers
The losing end of the "Immaculate Reception" -- Dec. 23, 1972, divisional playoff game vs. Steelers
Stabler was thrust into action against the Steelers as a backup in place of Daryle Lamonica. He nearly won the game for the Raiders, scoring on a 30-yard touchdown scramble with 1:17 left in the game. Then, well ...
No comment necessary.
A ridiculously tough dude. pic.twitter.com/jmMX5OCB5o— OLIVER STACKS (@edsbs) July 9, 2015