Photo by Shawn Jonas
On Thursday, Hall of Fame cornerback Willie Brown appeared on Sirius XM NFL Radio’s Movin’ The Chains with Pat Kirwan and Jim Miller to discuss the legacy of the Raiders legend.
Ken Stabler and Willie Brown were teammates from 1970-78 and were key members of the team that won Super Bowl XI 32-14 over the Minnesota Vikings.
During his time on the air, Brown touched on a variety of topics regarding Stabler, including the quarterback’s demeanor as well as the championship season of 1976.
Willie Brown’s Remembers “The Snake.”
On Ken Stabler:
Brown: “My first reaction when I heard the news about him was that I was concerned about his family, and to make sure that his family was okay. It’s a tough time for them, a tough time for everybody who came in contact with “Snake” Stabler because of the way he was. I hope the family’s okay. It’s tough when two of your colleagues – Former Detroit Lions Tight End Charlie Sanders just died – he’s in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, now it’s Kenny. Those kinds of things – you don’t realize it, or understand what happened. They happen so fast, before you have a chance to really react to them. Snake was a great quarterback, there’s no question about it. He helped me out a lot and I helped him a lot in practice by going one-on-one with the wide receivers and him. He was very competitive. He did his own thing. He was ready to play come Sunday. That was the best thing about him. Playing came easy for him. He was a great leader. He was a great Raider and he should be in the Hall of Fame.”
Q: On if close games brought out the best in Stabler:
Brown: “There was no question about it. When he said something, you listened and did what he said. Again, he was a great ballplayer. He had a lot of support around him. We were all together. His teammates loved him, in particular the offensive line. He hung out with those guys more than anybody. He and Fred Biletnikoff, Gene Upshaw, Art Shell, all those guys, Dave Casper. We lost a great friend.”
Q: On Stabler’s relationship with Al Davis:
Brown: “They had a good relationship. When you’re talking about your number-one quarterback, you have to have a good relationship with him. It doesn’t have to be great, but I know Mr. Davis had a lot of respect for Snake; a lot of respect because he was a winner. He knew how to win and he knew exactly about the system. He knew about Al Davis. He knew about assistant coaches. [People] tend to believe that he did not have a good relationship with Mr. Davis, but he did.”
Q: On the 1976 season:
Brown: “No question about it, that was one of the best years that we had. Not only that game, but Snake had a lot of great games. If you look at the tape and film on Snake, you looked at how he played in all those games – he played well. Snake had a fantastic career and he had a great game, but that particular year he was clicking on everything. He couldn’t do anything wrong. We knew that we had a shot that following year after the season we went to the Super Bowl. We knew we were coming back together – if the team stayed intact that we could win this thing, and there was no way we could have won it without Kenny Stabler.”
Brown: “I know that getting ready in the locker room he was just nice and loose. He wasn’t uptight. He wasn’t walking around in a corner and hiding himself. He’d get up. He’d move around and say, ‘okay boys,’ in that Southern accent of his. He’d say, ‘okay, boys, we’re going to go get them today,’ stuff like that. We’d say, ‘okay, Snake, whatever you say.’ He was just that kind of guy. He didn’t get uptight and wasn’t tight before the game or anything. He was nice and loose, ready to go.”
On the Divisional Playoff game against the Baltimore Colts in 1977:
Brown: “The game was pretty tight. Baltimore, they thought they had it, but knowing Snake and what he could do and how he played in that game, I knew we had a shot at it to win the game, because Snake was, like I said, very competitive. He was a challenging guy. If there was something there he was going to challenge it, going after All-Pros, going after whoever was playing in those particular positions. He was going to take advantage of it because he was very smart, and he knew his teammates, and he knew what they could do and what they couldn’t do. He knew everything that his teammates could do for him. He did the rest. There he was on the sideline, cool and calm. He wasn’t upset about anything. He was ready to roll. In that Baltimore game, we knew we had a shot. As long as there was some time on the clock, get the ball to Snake and he would get a touchdown for you.”