Ken Stabler’s family released a statement on Facebook informing that he passed away on Wednesday, not Thursday as previously reported. They also described the death-bed soundtrack sending Stabler to the Great Gridiron in the Sky.
“He passed peacefully surrounded by the people he loved most, including his three daughters and longtime partner, as some of his favorite songs played in the background, such as Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Sweet Home Alabama’ and Van Morrison’s ‘Leaves Falling Down,'” the family noted.
“Sweet Home Alabama” sounds like a natural choice for the Crimson Tide quarterback to make the journey to reunite with Bear Bryant. One needn’t be an especially astute decoder of metaphors to grasp the appropriateness of Van Morrison’s “When the Leaves Come Falling Down.” Van the Man repeatedly sings in the 1999 ballad: “When the leaves come falling down/In September when the leaves, come falling down.”
Stabler, 69, won the 1974 NFL MVP and led the Oakland Raiders to a victory over the Minnesota Vikings at Super Bowl XI. After a decade in Oakland, he finished his career with the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints.
The Snake received a colon cancer diagnosis in February and leaves his brain to Boston University’s Center for the Study of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.
“He was a kind, generous and unselfish man,” the family’s statement maintained, “never turning down an autograph request or an opportunity to help someone in need. A great quarterback, he was an even greater father to his three girls and grandfather to his two ‘grand snakes.'”