If only we could go back in time two months ...
The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Wednesday that legendary Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler and Lions All-Pro guard Dick Stanfel would be the Seniors Committee nominees for the Class of 2016. Both former players passed away within the last two months, Stanfel in June and Stabler in July, with the latter sparking much in the way of media fanfare and remembrances.
For the families of these great players, to even have them be nominated -- Stanfel has been nominated by the Seniors Committee twice before, while Stabler has been a finalist three times -- is quite an honor. The same could be said for being enshrined, which would require a yes vote from 80 percent of the Hall voters, the same threshold required of modern-day candidates.
While we hope each finally gets his day in the Canton sun, here's what you must know about both.
Ken Stabler, quarterback
The non-hefty lefty was affectionately known as "The Snake" by teammates and foes alike, evolving from a member of the taxi squad (think the practice squads of today) to one of the top five quarterbacks of the 1970s.
Many historians of the game consider the "Super '70s" to be the largest growth era of the game, when the Super Bowl became the national holiday it is today. Well, Stabler led his Raiders to the doorstep of Super Sunday five years in a row, from 1973 -- his first year as the starting quarterback in Oakland -- to 1977. In 1976, he won the darn thing while posting the second-highest single-season passer rating (103.4) of the decade. Stabler was voted NFL MVP and Offensive Player of the Year in 1974. A four-time Pro Bowler, Stabler also posted the decade's highest yards-per-attempt mark (7.69) -- beating out Hall of Famers Roger Staubach, Terry Bradshaw, Fran Tarkenton and Bob Griese. He was named to the All-Decade Team of the 1970s.
This will mark Stabler's fourth time as a finalist, though his first as a Senior Nominee. His rough runs in Houston and New Orleans during the twilight of his career hurt not only his numbers, they also seemed to damage his overall candidacy.
Dick Stanfel, guard
Stanfel was one of the top offensive linemen of the 1950s, and his number, like Stabler's, has almost been called multiple times. He was a Seniors Committee finalist in 2012 -- the year selectors went with the deserving Jack Butler -- and 1993.
What has likely hurt his candidacy in the past is the old Terrell Davis argument -- Stanfel only played seven seasons. Yet, Stanfel's teammate on those fantastic Lions teams of the '50s, Doak Walker, made it to the Hall nearly 30 years ago despite only playing six seasons. Moreover, that Detroit club went to three straight championship games, winning the NFL title in 1952 and 1953 before falling short in a three-peat bid in '54. Stanfel was named All-Pro at his guard position each of those last two seasons, then made it three years in a row for the Redskins from 1956 to '58. He also made it the All-Decade Team of the 1950s.
Five All-Pro mentions in seven years and two NFL titles? Sounds like a Canton-made résumé to me ... kind of like, well, Stabler's. A late honor is still an honor.