Kenny "The Snake" Stabler died last week. Sports reporter Bob Padecky recalls a memorable interview with the Oakland Raiders quarterback.
"This project started with my dad on Thanksgiving. He was reminiscing about Doug Williams, who in 1988 became the first black quarterback to start and win a Super Bowl. All these years later, he was still proud of Williams, whose name to some may be that of a half-remembered player from the past but to millions of others remains a powerful symbol of progress. It stayed with me, and it seemed that it was worth telling the story not just of Williams, but of everyone—of all those generations of players who struggled so that Russell Wilson could be, simply, a good young quarterback." Deadspin's The Big Book of Black Quarterbacks.
But I learned to deal with the pain, the instability, the imbalance, just like every other NFL player does. My story is not unique. Every other football-playing man deals with the same cycle of injury and rehab, separated by periods of relative health. Some bodies are better suited to the demands of the game than others. They stay healthy longer, play more, smash more skulls, die younger. I should see my inability to stay healthy as a blessing in the long run, because it spared my brain the extra punishment. The fact is, no one remembers any NFL game I ever played in but me. My Injury File: How I Shot, Smoked, And Screwed My Way Through The NFL.