By Jason Rentner
Class of 2016 Senior Finalist Ken Stabler gained many fans while playing for the Raiders. One of those fans is arguably one of the most iconic actors of all time – Tom Hanks.
Hanks, who grew up in the Oakland area, wrote a letter to Stabler’s daughters (Kendra and Alexa) last week after receiving some Stabler gear from them. Kendra and Alexa sent the gift to Hanks after hearing he was a fan of their dad.
The letter reads as follows:
18 December 2015
Dear Kendra and Alexa,
Beyond the heroics on the field and, say, a Super Bowl victory, why a young fan takes to any one football player is a mystery. A personal attraction.
In Oakland, the capitol of Raider Nation, the years I was a kid there we had everyone from the Black Panthers, the Hell's Angels, the Zodiac Killer, and Charley O. Finley. And, we had the Raiders...
Your father, with his left-handedness and those two bad knees, displayed a permanent smile of bemusement that said -- win or lose -- "ain't this fun?" I really did see in him the honor to be found in playing the game, of using one's god given talent, of taking pleasure in the effort.
That Ken Stabler came from the likes of Alabama yet played right there in my home town helped me understand the variety found in the USA. Using a pair of pillars to change the channel on my busted kids TV (it had a few knobs missing) I would tune in San Diego to see your Dad play, or Shea Stadium to see him take on the Jets -- learning that if you were good enough you could do your thing anywhere you wanted.
I'm honored to wear the fine bit of Stablerwear you sent along and will continue to offer up to anyone who comes my way, and maybe asks how I ended up where I am, that you just have to throw deep, baby...
Hanks showed what a class act he is by his response to receiving the gifts from Stabler’s daughters.
Stabler was drafted in the second round out of Alabama by the Oakland Raiders in 1968. The left-handed quarterback was known for his exciting style of play and ability to win games. He compiled an impressive .661 winning percentage over his 15-season career with the Raiders (1970-79), Houston Oilers (1980-81) and New Orleans Saints (1982-84).
Stabler must receive the same 80 percent voting support that is required of all finalists to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The Hall’s Selection Committee, at its annual meeting to be held on Saturday, February 6, 2016 in San Francisco, Calif., will consider 18 finalists, including two Seniors (Stabler and Stanfel), one Contributor (Ed DeBartolo Jr.), and 15 Modern-Era candidates (to be determined from a preliminary list announced in mid-September). Current bylaws call for a class no smaller than four or larger than eight. The Seniors finalists will be voted on for election independent of the other finalists.
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