Foley legend Ken 'Snake' Stabler honored during gametime festivities

By John Underwood /
Posted 8/24/16

FOLEY, Alabama — A pair of ceremonies were held during Friday night’s season-opening contest on Lester Smith Field at Ivan Jones Stadium in Foley to honor Foley native Kenny Stabler.

A 1964 …

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Foley legend Ken 'Snake' Stabler honored during gametime festivities


FOLEY, Alabama — A pair of ceremonies were held during Friday night’s season-opening contest on Lester Smith Field at Ivan Jones Stadium in Foley to honor Foley native Kenny Stabler.

A 1964 graduate of Foley High School, Stabler was named first team All-State in Class 3A in 1963, was named to the Orlando Sentinel’s All Southern Team in 1963 and participated in the 1964 Alabama High School All-Star game.

“A lot of people know that he was a great football player,” said teammate and former Foley athletic director Lester Smith. “What people don’t know is that he was also a great basketball player and a great baseball player, giving up a professional contract to play football. He was also a great person.”

In a ceremony following the opening quarter, Smith presented Stabler’s family – including daughters Alexa Stabler Adams and Kendra Stabler Moyes, and sister Carolyn Stabler Bishop and members of their families – with a replica of Stabler’s No. 12 jersey, which is being retired.

According to the Lions’ roster, No. 12 is currently being worn by junior quarterback Garrett Mayo. Mayo will be allowed to finish his career at Foley with that jersey, after which the number will no longer be used.

“This is something that has never been done before at Foley High School,” said FHS Principal Russ Moore in an earlier interview. “It’s just something nice that we can do for the family and for the community. We want to do something to focus on the positives and there are plenty of positive things to focus on.”

Stabler’s coach at Foley, Ivan Jones, was also present and on the field for the ceremony.

The Lions were 29-1 over Stabler’s three-year career. In Stabler’s sophomore season, as a backup to quarterback Lester Smith and a standout defensive player, the Lions won their first State Championship, going 10-0, allowing just six points defensively. Stabler then led the Lions to another state championship 10-0 season as a junior, then went 9-1 as a senior before signing to play for legendary Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant at the University of Alabama.

As a starter, Stabler led the Crimson Tide to a 19-2-1 record, going 11-0, but fell short of winning a National Championship in 1966. Alabama also went 9-1-1 and won the National Championship with Stabler as a back-up quarterback in his sophomore season in 1965 and also won the National Championship under quarterback Joe Namath during Stabler’s freshman year (under NCAA rules, freshmen were ineligible to play at the time).

Stabler was drafted by the Oakland Raiders in 1968, joining the team in 1970 and would go to have a 15-year career in the NFL, including 10 seasons with the Raiders, during which time he led the team to victory in Super Bowl XI. He then spent two seasons with the Houston Oilers and three more with the New Orleans Saints before retiring in 1984.

Stabler finished his career with a completion rate of nearly 60 percent, throwing for almost 200 touchdowns and 28,000 yards in 15 seasons.

Stabler died in July of 2015 after battling colon cancer, and was inducted posthumously into the National Football League’s Hall of Fame during a ceremony held Aug. 5 in Canton, Ohio.

A video preceded Friday’s halftime ceremonies, showing the Hall of Fame ceremony in which Stablerf was inducted into the Hall of Fame by legendary Raider Coach John Madden, who was actually home recovering from surgery and was unable to attend.

“I’ve often said if I had one drive to win a game to this day, and I had a quarterback to pick, I would pick Kenny,” Madden said during a taped interview from last year, shown during the ceremony. “Snake was a lot cooler than I was. He was a perfect quarterback and a perfect Raider. When you think about the Raiders, you think about Ken Stabler.”

Richard Moyer, owner of Moyer Ford in Foley, presented the family with a plaque on behalf of the Ford Motor Company’s Hometown Hall of Famer Program, which included a representation of Stabler’s bust, which is now on display at the Hall of Fame.

“As a boy growing up in Foley in the 70s, Snake Stabler truly was a hometown hero that everyone wanted to emulate,” Moyer said. “I am proud to represent Ford Motor Company in honoring him.”

Stabler’s daughter, Alexa Stabler Adams, spoke on behalf of the family during both ceremonies, saying that no matter where he went or what he accomplished, her father was always proud to call Foley home.

“It is a long journey to the NFL Hall of Fame, and he started his journey right here in Foley,” Adams said. “What he learned here in Foley carried him through to Tuscaloosa, to Oakland with the Raiders, then Houston and New Orleans and ultimately to the Hall of Fame, but no matter where he went, he would always come back home to Foley. On behalf of the family to the fans of Foley High School and to the city of Foley, thank you, thank you very much, and go Lions!”