What a long journey it’s been for Ken Stabler’s bust to finally take its place in Canton. One in which Ken Stabler himself sadly didn’t see the final leg. And just like he had done so many times in his career as the master of the two-minute drill, his former teammates are now taking him across the goal line.
"I’ll be there in person," said Cliff Branch. "The Raiders have a plan, going out with [Mark] Davis and then Mrs Davis, so it will be me, Willie Brown, Raymond Chester, and then Clem Daniels, and Freddie Biletnikoff and his wife. So, we’ll be there, and of course John [Madden] takes his bus. He don’t take no airplane or trains and stuff, so we’ll be back there. It’s going to be one hell of a party for Kenny."
John Madden, a Hall of Famer himself, will present his former quarterback for enshrinement, which takes place tonight on the stage at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton.
Upon Stabler’s death last July, Madden spoke glowingly and at great length about the quarterback with whom he won his only Super Bowl following the 1976 season. A man he called "a true field general" and who he swore actually got cooler under pressure.
"To this day, if I had one drive I had to make to win a game, I'd want Kenny Stabler as a quarterback," said Madden. "And you just think of in those situations and in those drives when he would get into his drop and that back foot would set and he would stand straight up. He would get taller. He would make himself taller in the pocket. There are some guys that tend to make themselves smaller in the pocket, Kenny Stabler would go back and then he would rise and you just think that's the way he played. The bigger the situation, I'm gonna get back, I'm get to my drop, and I'm gonna step and I'm gonna rise. And then I'm gonna rise to the occasion. And that's what he did."
His former teammates in Oakland in the 70s when the Raiders were one of the league’s dominant teams have been stumping for over a quarter century for the man with whom they credit so much of their successes. Many of them will get to see his induction finally realized, thanks to the Senior Committee.
Kenny Stabler may no longer be with us, but ‘The Snake’ will be forever immortalized in the hallowed halls of Pro Football. That’s reason for some solemn reflection, followed by a hearty cheer of celebration, and finally a relieved exhale.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony will take place tonight at 4pm Pacific time. It will air on ESPN.
Along with Stabler, the inductees will be Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, Dick Stanfel, Kevin Greene, Eddie DeBartolo Jr., Tony Dungy, and Brett Favre.