Stabler with his beloved coach, Paul “Bear” Bryant. (photo by Amazon)
Kenny Stabler, Number 12, Dead at 69
By: Larry Burton
Kenny Stabler, one of Alabama’s more successful and certainly one of the most colorful past players is dead today at just 69 years old.
Stabler’s colorful lifestyle was what may have ultimately caused his early departure, but as Kenny once told me in the press box at Bryant-Denny Stadium, “I live my life my way I’ve found it’s just more fun that way.”
He was both an accurate thrower and a shifty runner and all that “shiftiness” earned him the nickname “Snake” as he always seemed to slither through the line somehow.
His non-conformity was always there and was a part of him from his youth to his adult life. Legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant once kicked him off the team in his senior season for “non conformism” because he let his academic go afoul. But he was able to rejoin once he took care of business and went on to gain All-American honors and cement his place in Alabama forklore with his famous “Run in the mud” against Auburn. He went on to be named co-captain and would often go by Denny Chimes and look at his imprinted handprints in the cement there. “That means as much to me as any championship.” Stabler said.
And Stabler did lead both his college and pro teams to the ultimate championships they could achieve.
Stabler told me his “wild” days at Alabama were very mild compared to joining the Oakland Raiders in the pros and that he was lucky to have played for a team with so much talent and an “Anything goes” mentality.
After leaving the pros and retiring a Super Bowl champion, Stabler’s personal life continued to have marched to his own drum.
“I am a lucky man who certainly lived at the right time. Can you imagine me being a quarterback today with everyone having a movie camera in their pocket?” Stabler said with a laugh.
Indeed, Stabler’s run-ins with the law over his partying and drinking have all been well publicized. He had a life-long struggle with alcohol, but fewer knew the warmth the man had for others in need and his commitment to his friends. Every Alabama fan should know how much he loved this program and what it meant to him.
He was a man who was deeply committed to helping others and hosted charity events like his Alabama Golf Tournament and other charities he either gave to or gave his time to.
A few years ago, Stabler started a small wine business and his wine was aptly named “12”. We talked about the name and why he did that.
“First of all, I thank God for giving me a little talent and then guiding me down the paths I took, the most important of which was to come to Alabama and be a part of something that always was and always will be special. Second, there is a small fraternity of us who share a special number, to put that number on your back means you better be special. So when I wanted to name my wine, I wanted it to have a name that people would associate with something special and that of course was number 12.” Stabler told me.
Initially there were rumors of his death that were reported, then retracted, now reported again. But this reporter now feels confident enough to publish this story and there is no reported reasons for the on and off again reports. In such stories it is important to know that mistakes can and often do happen and we at Touchdown Alabama Magazine wish to offer our sincerest condolences to the Stabler family, his foundation and the many friends he has.
As of publishing, no cause was given for his death. Stabler is survived by three daughters and has been married three times. *Update: Stabler’s ex-wife Rose said today the death was cancer related.*
Second update: * The Family’s message *
Family’s Statement on the Passing of Ken Stabler
We announce with great sadness that our father, Ken Stabler, passed away Wednesday, July 8 as a result of complications associated with colon cancer.
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.”
He quietly battled Stage 4 colon cancer since being diagnosed in February 2015.
He wanted to make a difference in the lives of others in both life and death. At his request, his brain and spinal cord were donated to Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center to support research for degenerative brain disease in athletes.
He was a kind, generous and unselfish man, 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.”
We are grateful for the tremendous love and support from friends and fans. We ask that you please respect our privacy during this difficult time as we grieve this heartbreaking loss.
Funeral arrangements are pending. In lieu of flowers, we ask that donations be made to the X0X0 Stabler Foundation to support research of colon cancer and sports-related head trauma. More information will be available on Ken Stabler’s Facebook fan page and the X0X0 Stabler Foundation.
He is survived by his three daughters Kendra Stabler Moyes (husband, Scott), Alexa (fiance, Hunter Adams) and Marissa; his grandsons Jack and Justin Moyes; sister Carolyn Bishop; nephew Scott Bishop; and great nephew and niece Tayler and Payton Bishop. He is preceded in death by his father, Leroy Stabler, and mother, Sally Stabler.