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NFL Hall of Fame class of 2016: Raiders Ken Stabler finally gets in

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Raiders legendary quarterback Ken Stabler is officially part of the Hall of Fame class of 2016.

It came about 25 years later than it should have and a year too late for Stabler himself to bask in the glow of it -- he passed last July of cancer -- but the NFL will finally recognize Ken Stabler as the legendary Hall of Fame player he always was.

Stabler joins fellow Senior Committee inductee Dick Stanfel and five modern era inductees which included head coach Tony Dungy, quarterback Brett Favre, wide receiver Marvin Harrison, defensive lineman Kevin Green, offensive tackle Orlando Pace, and long time owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr as a contributor.

Stabler was first eligible for the Hall of Fame in 1989. And now he will posthumously be part of the 2016 Hall of Fame class. He gets in via the Senior Committee who made him one of two nominees a month after his death last year.

Previous to that nomination, the committee had simply given up even trying to pretend they had any intention of inducting Stabler. The past few years, he hadn't even been among the over 100 nominatees, let alone actually be among the finalists.

As a Super Bowl winning quarterback and leader of one of the great teams of the 70s, he is everything you expect from a Hall of Famer.

"He was one of the greatest competitors ever," John Madden said shortly after Stabler's death. "When you think of the Raiders of the 70s, Ken Stabler has to be right on top. Of all the people I've coached, and I've coached a lot of great ones, a lot of Hall of Famers, and he's one of the guys that's really at the top of the class."

"We had great rivalries with the Miami Dolphins who were one of the best teams in the NFL and the Pittsburgh Steelers were also one of the best teams in the history of the NFL. Terry Bradshaw's in the Hall of Fame and Bob Griese's in the Hall of Fame and look at Kenny's record when he played those."

The stats Madden refers to have Stabler's career passing numbers comparable several other Hall of Fame quarterbacks of his era including Griese, Bradshaw, and Joe Namath. And his playoff record is comparable to Griese and Namath.

While Stabler was at the helm of the Raiders, they rarely lost. He had a career record of 69-26. In his seven seasons as the fulltime starter in Oakland, he took them to the playoffs six times with a playoff record of 7-5 and the Raiders' first Super Bowl win following the 1976 season. In that Super Bowl run, everyone knew the bigger game was the 24-7 win over the Steelers in the AFC Championship game. It's a big reason Al Davis had the score of that game engraved on their Super Bowl rings.

As Madden said of Stabler "He was probably involved in more games that have names than anyone."

Games like The Sea of Hands, Ghost to the Post, Holy Roller, and Immaculate Reception all involved Ken Stabler heroics. The Immaculate Reception would never have even happened had it not been for Stabler coming off the bench to score a touchdown and put the Steelers in position where they needed a miraculous stroke of luck to pull out the win on the final play.

Stabler defined an era of football and a launched a dynasty in Oakland. He is an icon of the NFL and was beloved by all who played with him or most anyone who knew him off the field.

From here on out, we can finally say the words Hall of Fame quarterback Ken Stabler.