Snake: The Legendary Life of Ken Stabler
The Legendary Life of Ken Stabler
He was a giant among men, a symbol of a different era in sports . . .
The NFL in the 1970s was a ruthless league, rife with concussions, broken bones, unmatched egos, and frequent racial strife. In the midst of this madness, commanding the Oakland Raiders (perhaps the baddest team of them all) was quarterback Ken Stabler—aka Snake—an unassuming and lethal threat as a player. On the field, he was cool and con-fident, but off of it he was a legendary woman chaser and babe magnet, carrying a larger-than-life persona at odds with the performance-drenched focus that characterized the rest of the NFL. Yet the Stabler that would eventually emerge was more than a playboy. No quarterback was tougher or more uniquely talented; his accuracy, particularly with deep throws, was as good as any quarterback’s the league had ever seen; he’d won 100 games faster than any quarterback in history, as well as a Super Bowl, and most of all, he helped redefine the Raiders from losers to champions.
In Snake, Bleacher Report columnist Mike Freeman details Stabler’s childhood in racially segregated Alabama, his emergence as a rare high school talent, his raucous college days under the legendary Bear Bryant at the University of Alabama, and his famed career as a quarterback for the Raiders and, later, the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints. Freeman expands his story by offering a rare, personal look at Stabler after his football days—including his warm affection as a husband, father, and grandfather—and even describes how Stabler’s death, and subsequent Hall of Fame induction, paved the way for greater CTE awareness, as a 2016 autopsy revealed Stabler had been suffering from the disease.
This work examines the complete Stabler portrait: the good, the bad, and the unbelievable. Poignant, blunt, and eye-opening, Snake is a towering biography about a man who forever left his mark on football, the quarterback who studied his playbook by the light of a jukebox.
Mike Freeman is an NFL Insider for CBSSports.com. Before that, he was an NFL writer, investigative reporter, and columnist for the New York Times; a columnist for the Florida Times-Union; and a sports reporter, features writer, and investigative writer for the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Dallas Morning News. He lives in New Jersey.