Brett Favre says his ‘homeboy’ Ken Stabler was always an inspiration

Favre credits Stabler for his desire to become an NFL quarterback.
Favre credits Stabler for his desire to become an NFL quarterback.

CANTON, Ohio — Brett Favre never met Ken Stabler, and unfortunately didn’t get the chance when the two quarterbacks were inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday.

But that didn’t stop one legend from paying tribute to the other. Favre pointed out Dec. 13, 1983 as the date he wanted to become a professional football player: His father Irv took him and his brother Scott to a Saints-Rams game.

“As we sat in our seats prior to kickoff, the crowd stood and they pointed in the direction of the Saints tunnel, and as I stood I saw this long-gray-haired, scruffy-beard player emerging from the tunnel. … That was what I was destined to be. I wanted to be that player.”

Favre then paused and let everyone knew who he saw.

“That player happened to be none other than Ken Stabler.”

That’s ironic on so many levels. Stabler was the Favre-type playmaker/personality/cult hero of the 1970s. Unlike Favre, Stabler never really settled down. He threw more interceptions (222) than touchdowns (194), but he offset that with a 96-49-1 record as a starter. Stabler led the Raiders to a win in Super Bowl XI, 20 years before Favre, and seven seasons before their one-sided encounter in the Louisiana Superdome.

Favre spoke more about Stabler at the Enshrinee Gameday Roundtable at the Canton Civic Center on Sunday. As a kid, Favre didn’t have cable, so the Saints were the best option. That’s when Favre caught Stabler in the twilight of his career.

“I never knew him, but he was from Foley, Ala., which is not too far from me,” Favre said. “I kind of considered him a homeboy. I was not really an Oakland fan, but I was a Kenny fan. I just not only was he a great player, he was a great character, and he just seemed to always come through in the clutch.”

Stabler has his own anthology of miraculous finishes, and they all have awesome nicknames. “Holy Roller.” “Ghost to the Post.” “Sea of Hands.” Nobody had a flair for the dramatic in the 1970s quite like Stabler.

That would pass down to Favre in the 1990s, who helped turn the Packers into a Super Bowl champion in Super Bowl XXXI.

The comparisons are eerie: Each quarterback had one Super Bowl win, even if it seems like more. Both had their legion of fans. For Stabler’s, it was better than rooting for Roger Staubach and Terry Bradshaw. For Favre fans, it was better than rooting for Troy Aikman or Steve Young.

The Southern “homeboys” improved their way to greatness, and they will be forever tied together. It’s just too bad they weren’t in Canton at the same time. Stabler passed away on July 8, 2015, shortly before he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“Kenny was a guy who always came through, whether it was the ‘Holy Roller’ or just the perfect corner pass,” Favre said. “He was ‘The Snake.’ What else can you say?”

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