The Hall of Fame ceremonies got underway at 7pm in Canton Ohio. Marvin Harrison led out the evening, followed by Orlando Pace, then Dick Stanfel, and Kevin Greene. Then it was Stabler's turn to be enshrined.
Chris Berman led it out:
"To watch him play quarterback and to look at him without a helmet, Ken Stabler was without a doubt, however you say it, he was an Oakland Raidah. Al Davis said it; "Just win baby". And that's exactly what he did. This three-time Alabama All-American became the starter for the Oakland Raiders in 1973 and the next five seasons Oakland played in all five AFC Championship games. Their record over that five-year span: 56-13-1. They won Super Bowl XI by crushing the Vikings. The reason they weren't in any more Super Bowls, you might remember that the Steelers and the Dolphins in the 70s were pretty good themselves. The Snake was a 2-time MVP and by the time he finished playing in Houston and New Orleans, he had the second highest career pass completion percentage behind only Joe Montana. Hall of Famer Freddie Biletnikoff will help on stage and to present the late, great Kenny Stabler into the Hall is Hall of Fame coach, at home with hip replacement surgery; John Madden."
Then they went to the narrated video montage, with statements from John Madden inserted.
Throughout their colorful and illustrious history, the Oakland Raiders have had a commitment to excellence. And no player fulfilled that commitment quite like Ken "The Snake" Stabler. The legendary lefty grew up in Foley Alabama, bypassing minor league baseball contract offers from the Yankees and Astros to play for Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama.
He finished with an 18-2-1 record as a starter for the Tide, providing a glimpse of what was to come. Stabler became a Raider in 1968. Al Davis's Raiders were a unique franchise, carrying themselves with a swagger and toughness that had an effect on an opponent. The Snake fit right in.
Stabler's elusive scrambling style made him a dangerous playmaker through the air and on the ground and his confident demeanor was a perfect fit for the tough, take-no-prisoners mentality of the 1970s Raiders.
He would be slowed by a series of knee injuries, but in fitting Stabler fashion, he learned to improvise. Though the once frequent scrambler reinvented himself as a more traditional dropback passer, the results were the same.
"Whatever that thing was, that focus, that concentration, that competitiveness, he could just step it up a notch when you needed it." - John Madden.
Under the tutelage of head coach John Madde, Stabler's Raiders were a postseason fixture. In 1972, Oakland engaged in a memorable playoff struggle with the eventual champion Pittsburgh Steelers. It would go down as one of the most famous games in sports history (The Immaculate Reception).
After leading the league in passing touchdowns, Stabler was named league MVP in 1974. He again led the league in touchdown passes in 1976, taking the Raiders to Super Bowl XI. There he faced off against Minnesota's famed Purple People Eaters defense and future Hall of Fame quarterback, Fran Tarkenton. Stabler was unfazed, marching his team up and down the field in a second quarter that broke the game open.
Super Bowl XI was part of an historic Oakland run. The Raiders won five consecutive AFC West titles and Stabler became the third quarterback since the AFL/NFL merger to take his team to five straight conference title games. Stabler reached four Pro Bowls in his 15 NFL seasons. He remains the Raiders all-time franchise leader in wins, passing yards, and passing touchdowns. But beyond the stats, Stabler also exemplified the best of what the Raiders aspired to be.
"I always said that if I had one quarterback to make a drive that went to the field, at the end of the game to win that game, that guy would be Ken Stabler, number 12. We miss you, we love you, and we'll see you in the Hall of Fame." - John Madden at the Stabler tribute game during the 2015 season.
He was tough, he was confident, and he was a devoted fixture in the city of Oakland. Stabler remains a symbol of that golden era. An iconic representation of excellence so frequently sought, and for a few rare individuals; memorably found.
"It is my pleasure to present for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, my friend, Ken Stabler." - John Madden
After the montage, Ken Stabler's grandsons Justin and Jay took the stage to unveil his bust. They were joined by Raiders Hall of Famers Ted Hendricks, Art Shell, Fred Biletnikoff, Dave Casper, and Willie Brown. It was an extremely emotional moment, as his grandsons were in tears. One of them kissed the bust.
The moment was captured perfectly by the Indianapolis Star. The Raiders also released a short video of the bust unveiling which you can watch here.