The news of Kenny Stabler's death hits pretty hard for guys of my generation. If you were an Alabama fan, growing up in the mid-1960s, Crimson Tide football couldn't have been better.
I can still recall piling onto the couch with my brother every Sunday to watch "The Bear Bryant Show." The coach would narrate highlights of that week's game as he sipped an ice cold Coca-Cola and nibbled from a bag of Golden Flake potato chips.
Earnie and I made sure we had both items in front of us as well. My guess is a lot of men, now in their 50s and 60s, did the same thing. It was our way of getting close to the legendary Paul "Bear" Bryant.
Stabler led the Tide to an undefeated season in 1966 and what should have been a third consecutive national championship. However, Alabama was snubbed in the polls and finished third behind Notre Dame and Michigan State.
Perhaps, his biggest highlight at Bama is Stabler's "Run in the Mud" against Auburn. It happened in 1967 at Legion Field in Birmingham.
The Tide was trailing 3-0 late in the game, when Stabler "snaked" his way through the Tiger defense and scampered 51-yards for a touchdown. The final score was 7-3, Alabama.
It's not easy writing about that game since I'm now an Auburn fan. For the record, I converted during the Doug Barfield era, when times on the Plains were extremely lean. I'm still a Bear Bryant fan, and will be all my life.
Kenny Stabler went on to a successful career in the NFL, winning Super Bowl XI with the Oakland Raiders. Following his retirement as a player, he became a broadcaster, first with CBS doing NFL games, and later on the radio covering his alma mater.
Stabler was 69-years old when he succumbed to colon cancer Wednesday night. I'm sure he and Bryant are having one heckuva conversation right now.
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