Everything You Don’t Know About NFL Legend Ken Stabler

 

I should probably begin this blog by acknowledging that the topic is not what you’d normally see on BARK! You won’t find any marketing advice or best advertising practices within this post. But at LOOMIS, we have a strong familial culture – this is my second family – and I couldn’t think of a better channel for sharing this.

You may have heard of my father, Ken Stabler, and you may have heard that he passed away in early July due to complications associated with Stage 4 colon cancer. Apart from the initial statement of his passing, I’ve been fairly quiet. Until now.

This weekend I will join my family in Oakland, Calif. as the Raiders have so graciously invited us to take part in a ceremony honoring him prior to Sunday’s regular season opener. I feel very fortunate for the outpouring of love and support I’ve received over the past two months (please know it hasn’t gone unnoticed). However, it’s still been difficult to confront the hard reality and deal with the growing hole in my heart. I lost not only my father, but my best friend. I lost my Dadskers.

I was recently interviewed for a TV special on my dad and felt like I held it together pretty well. There were some tough questions, but I was surprised that the hardest, the absolute hardest was “what will you miss most about him?” Fighting back a flood of emotions and a potential mascara catastrophe, I responded honesty, “Everything.”

There have been numerous stories shared about my dad – about what a great athlete he was, and the great person he was and how many people he touched. I’ve really enjoyed reading and hearing all of these wonderful recounts, but the “everything” that I will miss is what some may call “the little things.” The little quirks and traits that I came to know and adore in my 26 years. These aren’t headline-worthy, but they are what make Dadskers so special to me.

Note: Many of these are in present tense as I’m working to head the advice of a dear friend: “Your dad IS the best person and dad always. Never use past tense. He is with you always. He is just right there on the other side – sort of a veil away.”

His idea of fun consists of sweat pants and CNN.

There are plenty of colorful, legendary stories of his wild playing-days past. But the dad we knew only needed a recliner, “The Most Trusted Name in News,” and to be surrounded by his girls.

He’s funny, and goofy.

We share a rather dry sense of humor, and we could laugh until we cried. In one of our last visits, the family gathered around to play Heads Up! It went on for hours. His answers were – while not always correct – the best, but it’s also probably best I not repeat.

He’s a morning person. (I am not.)

It was rare that he slept past 6 am. And there was that damn song he’d sing to me to wake me up for school. “Good morning to you. Good morning to you. We’re all in our places with bright smiling faces. Good morning to you. Good morning to you.”

Dad_Alexa_and_Me_-_circa_91-92

He has a huge sweet tooth.

This was something I didn’t inherit, thankfully.

“You want dessert?”

“No thanks, Dadskers. I’m stuffed.”

“We’ll take one of each.”

But chili is his favorite food.

Every restaurant we’d go to, he’d pretend to skim through the menu. However, his orders were always predictable. My favorite perhaps was when I took him to Chuy’s, a small Tex-Mex chain, about a year ago when he came for a visit. “Y’all have chili?”

He likes to cook, but is horrible in the kitchen.

He knew how to make very few things, and even those were, um … But we never had the heart to say anything. “I made some good soup.” Cue the nervous smiles. His “soup” usually consisted of boiled chicken, celery, onions, carrots, maybe a potato, and sometimes rice floating in an attempt at broth, which was really just hot water with salt and pepper.  Eventually he learned 1) how to brown meat and open a bottle of Ragu and 2) how to use JIFFY Mix. “Spaghetti and Cornbread” became his signature dish.

He’s a neat freak.

He was constantly cleaning or reorganizing. Everything had its place. If you were cooking, you can bet he was within a foot of you, wiping pots and pans, putting away spices, and tossing away what he thought was trash (I … I was still using that).

He loves little dogs. And little dogs love him.

If you had a petite pooch and needed a dog sitter, you’re canine was in good hands. But it would take time, lots, to win their affection back. “How’s my grand-dog? How’s Miss Lita?” he’d ask. Lita is my 5-year-old Pomeranian. She still goes crazy if she hears the word “grandpa.”

He wasn’t one to use his celebrity, but made an exception when it came to his daughters.

What would I have done during my early-2000s WWE craze without his Mobile Civic Center connects? He didn’t shudder once as I held up my glittery, handmade sign that read “Marry Me Rock?” from our ringside seats. Do you remember the 1997 movieSpice World? Well if you saw it in a U.S. theatre, you most likely walked by a life-size Spice Girls cut-out. Thanks to an Alabama football photo and a Sharpie, Scary, Baby, Ginger, Posh and Sporty were transported from the Cinema 12 in Foley, Ala. so that they could be featured prominently in my sister’s bedroom.

He was a fantastic chauffeur.

You have to remember he had all daughters. Movies, softball games, shopping trips, Spice Girls’ concerts, he did it all. But he wasn’t just Mr. Mom; he never wanted to miss a moment. When my parents separated, I was still living in Orange Beach, Ala., and my dad was living in Mobile, about an hour’s drive west. He would drive from Mobile every morning to take me to school and every afternoon to pick me up from school. He continued to do this every day until I turned 16 and insisted on driving myself.

He’s tech savvy.

He was proud of the iPhone and iPad “tricks” he knew and felt compelled to share. He also knew more about what was going on in my friends’ lives than I did. “You didn’t know that? Well, McKenzie posted it on Facebook.” And I just can’t help but grin when I think of the time he put into those countless Smile Boxes.

He could text and talk for hours.

He was always the one I called during my lunch break to help me really just take a break. He was also the first person I called with good news. He loved to hear about wins at work or exciting opportunities that came my way, and I loved to make him proud. We used to have evening talks that would last for hours. Conversation varied; sometimes we’d share ideas that excited us or funny videos to get each other’s reaction. This past Saturday was especially hard without our Alabama football text-message commentary followed by the post-game phone call.

Dad_and_Lita

A decorated NFL quarterback, my dad meant so much to so many. As much of this can be attributed to his on-the-field gifts, I think equally if not more so, it’s because of what he gave off the field, you know, the little things. The time he took to shake everyone’s hand, to sign every autograph, to set down his fork in the middle of dinner to say hello.

To me, he was my everything. And I’ll miss everything about him, every day for the rest of my life.