America lost Ken Stabler in 2015, and an appreciative fan sent a belated condolence letter of sorts to two of the Snake’s daughters, Kendra and Alexa.
“Your father, with his left-handedness and those two bad knees, betrayed a permanent smile of bemusement that said—win or lose—‘ain’t this fun?’” Tom Hanks typed to Ken Stabler’s daughters a week before Christmas. “I really did see in him the honor to be found in playing the game, of using one’s god given talent, of taking pleasure in the effort.”
Hanks wrote of using pliers to turn his television to Raiders games, on an equally primitive typewriter, and punched the keys further to tell of his appreciation for receiving Ken Stabler gear from his daughters. “In Oakland, the capital of Raider Nation, the years I was a kid there, we had everyone from the Black Panthers, the Hell’s Angels, the Zodiac Killer, and Charlie O. Finley,” the appreciative actor wrote. “And we had the Raiders…”
With the Raiders looking to again migrate South to Los Angeles, Hanks’ “had” takes on added meaning. The Raiders possibly play their last game representing Oakland in Kansas City against the Chiefs on Sunday. In Ken Stabler’s last moments in the temporal plane in July, the former Crimson Tide quarterback blared Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama” and Van Morrison’s “When the Leaves Come Falling Down” on his speakers. One gleans the impression that, “In September when the leaves come falling down,” the team that Al Davis built in the place where Al Davis built them will be, like the Snake, no more.
Stabler, had he survived his bout with cancer, would have celebrated his 70th birthday on Christmas. The Raiders provided a Christmas-eve gift of an overtime win over the San Diego Chargers, another team looking to relocate, to improve to 7-8.
Hanks, whose films raked in more at the box office than all but one other actor’s, reflected on his attraction to the 1974 NFL MVP: “Beyond the heroics on the field and, say, a Super Bowl victory, why a young fan takes to any one football player is a mystery.”