Will Stabler Get HOF Induction?

The only criteria for election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame are a nominee's achievements as a Player, a Coach or as a Contributor in professional football in the United States of America as stated in the By-Laws. Those words have not released Kenny Stabler from Pro Football's Hall of Fame election Purgatory.

Although a three-time selection finalist (1990, 1991, 2003), a few Pro Football Hall of Fame Board of Selectors have been adamant in their refusal to elect the former 1974 NFL MVP due to an off-the-field incident unrelated to activities on the gridiron.

Now in his first year of eligibility by a vote from the Seniors Committee, salvation for Ken Stabler's football soul may be forthcoming in light of the recent story written by a non-voting sports columnist of The Press Democrat, Bob Padecky. See the following link: The Press Democrat - Stabler-and-me-30-years-later [click here].

Thirty years has past since Padecky, a then Sacramento Bee journalist was involved in an attempted frame for cocaine possession while visiting the "Redneck Riveria's" Gulf Coast to interview former University of Alabama quarterback Ken Stabler.

In an interview with 'BAMA Magazine/BamaMag.com, Pedecky said, "I think that my story, the one I wrote recently, also the one I wrote 30 years ago should have no affect on whether Kenny Stabler makes the Hall of Fame. It had nothing to do with whether somebody should judge him as a quarterback worthy for the Hall of Fame."

Whether members of the voting committee accept the forgiveness of Stabler penned by Padecky, the offended party, remains to be seen.

Will they feel the freedom of the fourth estate was forever jeopardized by the antics of the LA (Lower Alabama) vigilante and staunchly hold an eternal grudge? Maybe some voters believe the southpaw slinger was just not worthy of induction based on their subjective analysis which is within their rights as voters. The vote is Aug. 25.

When asked directly if Kenny Stabler should be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Padecky candidly replied, "No. I say this for a couple of reasons. One, I don't know the exact numbers, but he has something like 194 touchdowns and roughly 225 interceptions. Those are not good Hall of Fame numbers."

"The second reason that I wouldn't vote for him into the Hall of Fame is that he was a very great quarterback for a relatively short period of time. To me that is the deciding factor as to whether he makes the Hall of Fame. He needed to be greater longer than he was. When he was at his peak he was as good as anybody in the game but he wasn't at his peak as long as I think you need to be to be in the Hall of Fame."

Padecky recognizes other factors beside numbers dictate a voter's version of a qualified candidate.

"There is also the feeling someone gives you as a player," he said. "For example in my view, I'm not sure Bob Griese should be in the Hall of Fame, but he was a quarterback obviously of an undefeated team. That has a certain weight to it that basically at this point no other quarterback can boast."

"There are some mitigating factors that contribute to either someone getting elected or not elected. In Kenny's case I think the team itself was overshadowed through the '70s by the great (Pittsburgh) Steeler teams. I think that had an affect just not only obviously the Raiders not winning as many Super Bowls as I think they could have won but also the Steelers had some incredibly dominant players - more than any other team."

"You look at Bradshaw vs. Stabler which is basically what this comes down to. Bradshaw's got four Super Bowls and Kenny has one. Those are factors which I think affects people's judgment."

Stabler is the only quarterback of a trio, including Terry Bradshaw and Roger Staubach, voted to the NFL 1970's NFL All-Decade team yet conspicuously excluded from enshrinement in Canton's hallowed hall.

The Dallas Cowboy first ballot inductee Staubach unequivocally states, "I think if you look at the quality of his play, he is a Hall of Famer. I feel like Kenny is definitely a Hall of Famer."

Padecky addressed the inconsistency of Bob Griese, a Stabler contemporary not voted to the aforementioned All-Decade team, yet in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Padecky said, "I probably have to say in all fairness, if Bob Griese's in the Hall of Fame then Kenny Stabler should be in the Hall of Fame. I think Stabler was a better quarterback than Griese. Griese wasn't asked to throw as often as Stabler did."

"That obviously has to be a key factor in somebody making the Hall of Fame as a quarterback, not that he (Griese) didn't do his job properly. Griese did exactly what he was told to do, and he did it very well, but I still think if Bob Griese is in the Hall of Fame then Kenny Stabler should be as well. Having said that, I don't think either one of them should be in the Hall of Fame. Again that's just my opinion."

As a Major League Baseball Hall of Fame voter Padecky conceded the human factor which can nullify the PFHOF By-Laws instructing the voters to consider only the achievements between the white lines.

"It's impossible to look at an athlete and not have some kind of emotional connection one way or another just because that is who they are and this is what they do," he said.

Hall of Fame discussions invariably resemble a tennis match with prolonged rallies of pros and cons being lobbied back and forth before the point is settled.

A few voters contend the duration of Stabler's greatness was insufficient to warrant inclusion into the exclusive club. If you subscribe to that assertion, then why was he selected by the Hall of Fame Selection Committee members as one of three quarterbacks including two first ballot PFHOF inductees (Bradshaw and Staubach) to the NFL 1970's All-Decade team over two eventual enshrines Griese and Tarkenton whose careers were most productive in the aforementioned decade?

Griese quarterbacked the Miami Dolphins to three consecutive Super Bowls after the 1971-73 seasons. Tarkenton appeared in Super Bowls with the Minnesota Vikings after the 1973-74 and 1976 campaigns. The incongruent voting defies logic making the two honors seem mutually exclusive.

Two nominees from the pre-1985 era approved by the Seniors Committee on August 25th will be added to the 15 modern-era finalists for consideration at the meeting next February when the class of 2010 will be named.

There is little time to endure the statistical gyrations to formulate a plausible pro volley fact to discourage the accompanying con return shot. No time for the serve and volley game normally reserved for an extended discussion.

The urgency of the matter requires in tennis parlance an ace factoid too significant to disregard. The velocity of the match ending serve is directly proportional to the voting history record of the Hall of Fame Selection Committee when you consider every quarterback voted to one of nine NFL All-Decade teams since the original of the 1920's has been elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame except for three of the 21 signal callers.

Deferring to the wisdom, knowledge, research and insight of the Board of Selectors, I challenge them to return service explaining the asymmetrical vote concerning Stabler's candidacy.

Cecil Isbel, a 1930's NFL All-Decade member, retired prematurely after a four year career with the Green Bay Packers playing pitch and catch with Alabama's legendary receiver Don Hutson to claim the head football coaching position at his alma mater, Purdue. Mississippian Brett Favre constantly in the news contemplating retirement is a 1990's NFL All-Decade member presently not eligible for induction but a certain first ballot future enshrinee.

The crimson elephant in the polling booth room is the lanky silver-haired southpaw famous for his mischievous off-the-field behavior and on-the-field "Cool Hand Luke" composure. Thus far his glaring omission considering the parallel voting stance recorded for admission to the NFL All-Decade teams and the PFHOF represents an exception to the evaluation precedent set forth by the Hall of Fame Selection committee.

It is duly noted that 11-of-23 modern era quarterbacks deemed as PFHOF members are absent from NFL All-Decade rosters which begs the question even further.

Why has Kenny "The Snake" Stabler been bypassed for selection into the Pro Football Hall of Fame? Is it mere coincidence or a deliberate occurrence of harboring a grudge?

The west coast journalist refutes the predictable scorn shown by some media members and has reconciled the events to his own satisfaction.

"Life goes on, I hope," replied Padecky reflecting on the incident of three decades ago.

Purgatory is viewed historical and religiously as a state to purify a soul destined for heaven. The "Snake" has lingered these past 30 years in the fourth estate's version of temporal punishment. Maybe through an ironic twist of benevolence enacted by one of journalism's brethren he might be redeemed and granted eternal gridiron salvation.

Kenny Stabler is a legendary football player seeking immortality in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Maybe in the month of August 2009 he will edge closer to the sculpted bust depicting his likeness reserved for the heavenly state of Canton, Ohio.

In a September 21, 1981 Sports Illustrated story by Paul Zimmerman, the most vocifersous PFHOF Board of Selector public critic of Stabler's candidacy, wrote, "According to another teammate, Gregg Bingham, a linebacker, Stabler isn't quite who he seems to be. ‘In spite of all his Cool Hand Luke stuff,' says Bingham, ‘his feelings are hurt very easily. When everyone's sitting around a bar in 1995, talking about who the great quarterbacks were in this era, well, all Kenny wants is his name mentioned alongside the other guys.'"

In most conversations about former NFL quarterbacks, Kenny "Snake" Stabler is already thought to be a member of the illustrious fraternity.

The name Stabler conjures up a young boy from Foley, Alabama, returning a punt in the circuitous route that earned him his famous moniker of "Snake." So far his journey to the northeastern Ohio shrine has some miles still to be covered, but maybe the golden gated goal-line doors are within sight.

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