Stabler's third strike
Franklin County Times
I've been an Alabama fan for as long as I can remember, and I think what happened last Sunday is an embarrassment to the football program and the university.
I can understand how an 18-year-old football player might make a poor, one-time decision that leads to a late-night arrest, but if that same person was arrested again for the same offense, I don't think he would still be playing for coach Nick Saban.
Last Sunday former Alabama and Oakland Raiders quarterback Kenny Stabler was arrested in Robertsdale for the third time on drunken driving charges. Stabler, who is commonly called "The Snake" for his legendary scrambling ability, was previously arrested and charged for driving under the influence in 1995 and 2001.
When the story broke, I was disappointed that one of the top players in Crimson Tide history had been arrested three times for getting behind the wheel and driving while in intoxicated – something young people are constantly warned not to do by organizations such as SADD and MADD because of the potential deadly consequences for themselves and others.
Stabler has been the color analyst for the Crimson Tide Sports Network for the past 10 years, and I have always enjoyed his clear, candid commentary. In fact, I would rather listen to Eli Gold and Stabler than any TV broadcasting team from ESPN or the major networks.
But the Alabama football program has weathered well-documented off-the-field problems by former coaches, staff and players in the past decade, and Stabler has had a front-row seat. I believe sportscasters are also role models and should be held to a higher standard of behavior and fall under the same rules as everyone else.
This might seem harsh but if Stabler is convicted of a third DUI charge, I think he should serve time in jail. I also think he should admit he has a drinking problem and seek appropriate help.
In his playing days, the Snake, who was suspended once by coach Bear Bryant for skipping class, guided Alabama to two SEC titles, the 1965 national championship and an undefeated 1966 season and also led Oakland to a 1977 Super Bowl victory.
Stabler was recently featured in Gold's book, "Bear's Boys," a collection of short biographies of former Alabama greats who played for Bryant. In the book, Stabler talks about learning his lesson after being suspended by Bryant.
In an AP article filed after the most recent arrest, UA director of athletics Mal Moore said, "…it's in times like these that his friends need to be supportive of him," while Stabler's boss, Steve Gowan of Learfield Communications, said, "In circumstances of this nature, our primary concern is for Kenny's well-being."
I would hate to read a story a few years from now about Stabler's death in an alcohol-related traffic accident. I think Moore should follow the example of Bryant, his former coach and mentor, and hold Stabler accountable for his off-the-field problems.
Kim West is sports editor for The Franklin County Times. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (256) 332-1881, ext. 30.