There is no instance that more exemplifies why we love sports more than the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. It’s the culmination of a life and career of excellence at the highest level of the sport.
In those instances, ideally, you see the player take the stage, unveil his bust, and then tell stories of his family and his teammates who helped him along the way and enriched his life to lead him to that moment.
Two Raiders greats were robbed of that by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which waited so long to enshrine them that they had passed away before they could have their moment.
Ken Stabler and Cliff Branch made up two parts of a lethal Raiders aerial attack in the 70s including a Super Bowl win. Stabler was one of the most clutch quarterbacks in NFL history and Branch retired as the all-time leader in postseason receiving yards — a record that wasn’t broken until Jerry Rice did it.
And yet they couldn’t get in during their lifetimes.
Then to add insult to injury, the Pro Football Hall of Fame would deny their families a Gold Jacket and a Hall of Fame ring.
“No jacket, no ring,” said Kendra Stabler, daughter of Ken Stabler at the time. “My Dad deserves it, dead or alive! He gave so much to the game we all love.”
Former Raiders CEO Amy Trask had some strong words for the Hall of Fame as well.
“It’s stunningly thoughtless to families of those who may have compromised their health to play,” said Trask, calling it “petty” and “simply dumb” and asking that they “fix it, please.”
Well, it took seven years, but it appears the Pro Football Hall of Fame has, indeed, *finally* fixed it.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced today they have changed their policy, allowing the families of those who were enshrined posthumously to receive their Hall of Fame Ring of Excellence.
Along with the announcement, they named six Hall of Famers whose families will receive the ring during the half time ceremony of the Hall of Fame game this Thursday, August 3.
While Stabler and Branch are not among those who will receive the ring on Thursday, that there are additional Ring of Excellence ceremonies which are planned for other Hall of Famers with living family members, which would include Stabler and Branch.
So, it shouldn’t be long before the families of the two legends finally get the ring they should’ve had all along.