Legendary Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler died in July at the age of 69. Today it was revealed that the four-time Pro Bowler, 1974 NFL MVP, Super Bowl champion and nemesis of the Pittsburgh Steelers had CTE, a brain disease associated with repeated trauma to the head.
Though Stabler's cause of death was colon cancer, he suffered from relentless headaches and other symptoms associated with the aftermath of concussions including memory loss and confusion. It was reported, via the New York Times, that both light and noise would trigger extremely painful episodes that left him grimacing and clenching his teeth so hard he once broke a bridge in his mouth.
Stabler is not alone in his diagnosis. A spate of former NFL players, including Pittsburgh Steelers center Mike Webster, San Diego Chargers linebacker Junior Seau, New York Giants running back Frank Gifford, and Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chris Henry all had trauma-related brain damage from their years on the gridiron.
Stabler earned the nickname "the Snake" for his ability to scramble, zigging and zagging, to make improbable plays, something Steelers fans who were alive for those legendary games in the 1970s remember all too well.