SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Oakland Raiders Hall of Fame coach and KCBS News contributor John Madden spoke at length about his friend and quarterback, Ken Stabler, who passed away Thursday at the age of 69.
Madden spoke with the KCBS morning crew during his Daily Madden program Friday, noting that the 1968 second-round pick from Bear Bryant’s Alabama team was solid from the start of his career with the Raiders. “He was always something special,” Madden said. “You just knew when you got him in there, he was going to be what you needed.”
Stabler’s accomplishments – MVP season, Super Bowl winner, four-time Pro Bowler, 19 4th quarter comebacks, All-Pro selections – have always prompted debate as to why he has not been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Madden noted Stabler’s statistics weren’t appreciated the way quarterbacks are rated nowadays, “But when you look at wins and losses, I mean you look at that Super Bowl year, he was as close to perfect as you could be in 1976 … we only lost one game that whole year.”
Stabler was often, if not always, at his best when the stakes were highest, Madden said. “The bigger the moment, the bigger he played. The hotter the situation, the cooler he got. When you needed a cool head to prevail, he was the cool head.”
Madden said Stabler exhibited that coolness during the Super Bowl against Minnesota in January of 1977. The Raiders offense was moving the ball early against the Vikings but sputtered twice, settling for two field goals. Madden said he was in full rant on the sidelines, telling Stabler and the offense, “We didn’t come here to kick field goals, we need touchdowns, blah blah blah, going on like an idiot” Madden recalled himself saying.
Madden said Stabler then came up to him, put a hand on his shoulder, and coolly told him, “Don’t worry, John. There’s plenty more where that came from.”
Daily Madden Full Interview:
John Madden Reflects On Ken Stabler, July 10, 2015.