Tom Hanks, Ken Stabler, Me, and Colon Cancer


Tom, one of the daughters of Ken Stabler acknowledged the fact that you wrote the letter to her and one of her sisters, thanking them for sending you some Stabler memorabilia.

From what you said, he made a big impression on you when you were a kid, and he quarterbacked the Oakland Raiders, a team you liked because of growing up in Oakland, or maybe the team’s tenacity, or image, or something.

It seems you typed this letter yourself, on a typewriter that Forrest Gump must have owned. He probably lent it to you after he was satisfied with how you portrayed him in the movie of the same name, “Forrest Gump”.

You do reference the fact that Ken came from the “likes of Alabama”. Now Tom, maybe I’m too old, and we have a generational gap in terminology, but in my day when you used the term, “likes of”, it was disrespectful, and was actually making fun of a way of life or location, in this case Alabama. Based upon that,  I assume you think that even though Forrest Gump graduated from Alabama, he still was not capable of writing a respectful letter to Stabler’s daughters, even though he must have owned the typewriter you wrote them a letter on.

Did the typewriter write better for you than it would have for Forrest Gump? I have seen an actual copy of your letter, and to be honest with you, it is difficult to tell whether you wrote the letter or Forrest Gump did.

As you know, the “likes of Alabama” is in the hunt for the National Championship again this year. There are no guarantees, but it’s nice to be among the four teams that are there.

The “likes of Alabama” did claim the National Championship in 2009, 2011, and 2012, if you are not aware, the “likes of Alabama” would like to do it again.

What brought me to your letter though is more serious than a football game. Ken died in July of colon cancer, a scant four or five months after he found out he had it. That’s what prompted you writing the letter to his daughters and to thank them for the memorabilia.

Ken was always known for his daring on the field. I’ll leave his exploits off to the field to historians. Perhaps what sticks out in the minds of the “likes of Alabama” fans is his run in 1967, where he came around Bama’s right end in the mud and rain and field conditions Canadian Geese would not even consider landing on, and took off for the end zone some 50 some odd yards away. To this day one of the Auburn linebackers, who shall remain nameless, says he was held, and couldn’t make the tackle. But even that Auburn linebacker didn’t say the “likes of Alabama” beat us that day.

Bama won the game against Auburn that year 7-3, and the legend of Ken Stabler grew into Paul Bunyan proportions.

I got colon cancer eighteen years ago. Some test performed by my Internist told him I should go see a colon doctor, and I’m still here. Kenny was not that fortunate.

He put off going to the doctor too long, and at 69, the same age as his Coach Bear Bryant when he died, Stabler paid the ultimate price.

I’d like to think that legends don’t die. They ride in on a white horse, well maybe crimson, get off the horse, go in the doctor’s office, the doctor cures the problem, and they get back up on that crimson horse, and ride off into the sunset, coming back for necessary events.

Ken Stabler won’t be back. But he was here, big time. Our son knew him, knew him well, He should have introduced me to Kenny. I’m not sure the first words out of my mouth would have been, “Kenny, you go check on your colon.” I would probably have gotten around to telling him to go have his colon checked at some point in the conversation. I’m sure I would have told him, “Kenny, you know, legends do die.”

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