by Frank Cooney

Stabler set to silence Cosell, Tarkenton

July 31, 1979
Featured image for “Stabler set to silence Cosell, Tarkenton”

Originally published by the San Francisco Examiner on July 31, 1979

By Frank Cooney

Examiner Staff Writer c-1979, S.F. Examiner

SANTA ROSA —  With all due respect to the expert opinions of Howard Cosell and Fran Tarkenton, Oakland Raiders coach Tom Flores will start Ken Stabler at quarterback Saturday against the Los Angeles Rams.

“Kenny has been looking good in practice and he’s been here long enough now to be ready for game action,” Flores said yesterday. “He will start in Los Angeles and we will have our other quarterbacks split time in the game, too.”

During last Saturday’s game against the Dallas Cowboys, Cosell and Tarkenton ripped Stabler, saying (1) he should be satisfied where he is because he is working behind the best offensive line in football, (2) that he should pay more attention to his conditioning because he has been out of shape and (3), that the reason the Raiders used sprint-out passes against Dallas was that David Humm could run on such plays, but Stabler could not.

Original SF Examiner Article, July 31, 1979

“That’s a lot of bull” Stabler said. “I like running sprint-out passes and play action stuff. We have always had those plays here at Oakland, but we just didn’t use them much because we really didn’t need to. That’s about all we ran at Alabama and I think it’s fun.” 

Stabler was actually only amused by the notion that he could not run the sprint-out plays. But he was not at all amused when he heard that Tarkenton criticized his condition and said Stabler had the luxury of the best offensive line in football. 

“Maybe somebody should remind Tarkenton that I was in good enough shape and did well enough with that offensive line to win a world championship,” Stabler said, referring to Oakland’s Bowl XI victory over Tarkenton and the Vikings.

Raiders DE Otis Sistrunk making things difficult for Vikings QB Fran Tarkenton in Super Bowl XI
© David Boss | 1977 Jan 9

“I’ll compare jewelry with Tarkenton any time,” Stabler added, looking at his Super Bowl ring. Like the rest of the Raiders, Stabler has been working hard on the after-practice weight program. And, like the rest of the Raiders, he is a little sore from it. But, overall he says he feels great and is ready to play. And if his accurate passing in camp is any indication, then perhaps Cosell and Tarkenton should tune in Saturday’s game to see if they need to update their opinions.

Meanwhile, the Raiders are now definitely in the market for a top flight running back. They probably should have been all along, considering that halfback Terry Robiskie was coming back off knee surgery and Arthur Whittington, at 5-9 and 134 pounds, is built more for spot duty than heavy duty.

“Maybe somebody should remind Tarkenton that I was in good enough shape and did well enough with that offensive line to win a world championship.”

Raiders QB Kenny Stabler

Now Robiskie is out for at least two or three weeks and possibly the rest of the preseason or more. He underwent an orthroscopic examination Sunday.

“This does leave us kind of thin at running back,” Flores said yesterday. “We would like to see what our other running backs can do, now, but we are also looking into the possibility of finding another halfback.

“It wouldn’t do us any good to bring in just anybody, so we would have to be talking about a pretty good back. It’s going to be pretty hard at this time to go out and get a real good running back. We ask a lot of our halfbacks. They must not only run, but they must be able to block on the run. We have a 1,00O-ird fullback here in Mark van Eeghen, so the

“What impressed me most was the spirit and enthusiasm on the field,” he said. I’ve spent the last seven years in the press box on the earphones as an assistant and I forgot about all the emotion there was down on the field.”

Flores also acknowledged that Humm, in his first start, and Plunkett, in his first appearance as a Raider, were a little “tight.”

Tom Flores - © Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Raiders Head Coach Tom Flores
© Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

“That’s understandable in the first game and under those conditions,” Flores said. “Jim was a little hesitant or maybe he would have had a couple of touchdowns on those long passes. But he is still getting to know our system and he did pretty good for his first time out with us.”

Flores was especially pleased by the play of his young defenders in the second half, when Dallas made an all-out effort to pull out a victory.

“Our young people hung in there real well when Dallas started throwing everything they had at us in the third and fourth quarter,” Flores said, “We did not panic and put our veterans back in and our younger players responded to the challenge.”

The flip side of that tune was that Dallas apparently did panic.

“Yes, the Cowboys did put their starters back in during the third and fourth quarters, except for the quarterback and setbacks,” Flores said. “You should have seen Tom Landry storming up and down the sidelines,” defensive end Pat Toomay added, referring to his old Dallas coach. “He obviously wanted a win. Nobody could have called him unemotional in that game. I wasn’t surprised at all that he put his starters back in.”

Toomay, who is apparently in the process of being traded, watched the game from his room here at the El Rancho Tropicana Hotel. He managed to figure out what was going on despite the narration of Cosell and Tarkenton.

“Aside from the things they said about Snake, you would have never known that the Raiders were in the game,” Toomay observed. “All they ever talked about was Dallas.” Except of course, w hen they mentioned who won the game. 

NOTES: Defensive lineman Otis Sistrunk left camp yesterday to travel to Los Angeles where his leg was to be inspected by team doctor Robert Rosenfeld … The rest of the team went through a grueling, two-hour workout that ended with weightlifting and a mile run.

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