A day after the passing of Raiders legendary quarterback, Ken Stabler, the football world is still in a state of shock. But that shock is not limited to those outside of Stabler's inner circle. His former teammates were completely taken off guard by Stabler's death.
This includes his former head coach and friend, John Madden who spoke over conference call Friday about Stabler.
"Yesterday was a very sad day," said Madden. "The passing of Ken Stabler. I think it was a shock to all of us. You just think that Kenny's one of those guys that whatever you throw in front of him, it's not gonna get him down. And then when you hear Kenny Stabler died, it's like a kick in the gut."
Not only did his former teammates and coaches not know he was in stage four of colon cancer, most didn't even know he had cancer at all. I asked Madden if he knew about Stabler's illness and what it says about Stabler as a person that so many were caught off guard by his death.
"I was unaware. I was not aware that he had cancer," said Madden. "That was a big part of the shock. But if you know Kenny Stabler, that's Kenny Stabler. We used to have a thing. Kenny Stabler never went in the training room. He didn't want any of his teammates to ever see him getting treatment. Never went in the training room. He wouldn't be seen in there. He wouldn't step in there. And so I thought, well this is ridiculous, because he would take a little beating during these games too and he needed treatment and so I would talk to him about it and he just didn't want to go in the training room. So, I said let's do it at night. When everyone leaves and George Anderson, our trainer would come back like at nine o'clock at night and that's when he got his treatment. But he didn't want any of his teammates to ever see him in the training room getting treatment. And I think that probably followed him through life."
Madden went to say he has been in a constant state of shock since Thursday when he heard the news. He is not alone. That shock has sent waves through the NFL world that have yet to subside and deservedly so. It has brought back the realization of just how great a player and person he was. And to lose him at the fairly young age of 69 only adds to that feeling of loss.