The Quarterback Who Changed My Football Viewing Habits

Oakland Raider QB Ken Stabler copyright 1975 Ron Riesterer

Oakland Raider QB Ken Stabler
copyright 1975 Ron Riesterer

I’m probably not a stereotypical American male, in that I don’t live and die by the weekly results of the NFL’s football games. I can certainly appreciate brilliant plays over the years by many teams. And I still watch some games. But not like I did in the late 60s and 70s.

One quarterback who changed my habits, at least while he was with the Oakland Raiders, was Kenny “The Snake” Stabler. With him and his merry band, it usually didn’t matter what was going on in the 1st 3 quarters. Didn’t matter how far down they were. Didn’t matter on the 3rd down how “long” they had to go. Anything could happen.

Even a network learned the hard way to never sell the Raiders short. The Heidi Game is part of football lore. With a minute to go in the AFC playoffs in Oakland, and the Raiders down by 3 against the NY Jets, the network decided at 19:00 to switch to their scheduled movie, Heidi.

While America was watching the movie, those in the stadium saw the Raiders come back in that last minute to score 2 touchdowns, winning 43-32.

His life and antics off the field were legendary.

When I asked Kenny Stabler a few years ago whether it was true that during training camp he used to tack the panties of local women he’d ****** onto the walls of his room in Suite 147 at the El Rancho Tropicana Hotel up in Santa Rosa, he offered a “no comment.” He’d just lost his job doing radio for the University of Alabama, his alma mater, and he didn’t feel like going on the record about having lived a life that the rest of the world would kill to have lived.

But when I asked Pete Banaszak about it—Stabler’s fullback on the immortal 1977 Super-Bowl-winning badass Oakland Raiders, one of the kick-ass greatest football teams in history—Rooster remembered one pair of women’s finery in particular: “Mesh.”

Farewell Kenny. You will be missed.

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