Super Bowl Champion Quarterback Ken Stabler Had CTE

Nicknamed “The Snake,” the Oakland Raiders legend died last July

NFL quarterback Ken Stabler had C.T.E., a Boston University study of his brain revealed.

On a scale of 1 to 4, Stabler had high Stage 3 chronic traumatic encephalopathy — the degenerative brain disease believed to be caused by repeated blows to the head, both concussive and sub-concussive. The details of the posthumous dissection were revealed Wednesday morning in the New York Times — mere days before the league’s huge Super Bowl 50 kicks off.

“He had moderately severe disease,” Dr. Ann McKee, chief of neuropathology at the V.A. Boston Healthcare System, told the paper. “Pretty classic. It may be surprising since he was a quarterback, but certainly the lesions were widespread, and they were quite severe, affecting many regions of the brain.”

“On some days, when he wasn’t feeling extremely bad, things were kind of normal,” Stabler’s partner Kim Bush said. “But on other days it was intense. I think Kenny’s head rattled for about 10 years.”

She later detailed his trouble with light and noise.

The lefty QB, nicknamed “The Snake,” played most of his pro career with the Oakland Raiders, where won Super Bowl XI and was a four-time Pro Bowler. After retiring, he worked as a broadcast analyst for the NFL and the University of Alabama, where he played under Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant.

Stabler died in July 2015 from colon cancer. He was 69.

The 1974 NFL MVP is once again a finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The results of the vote will be revealed on Saturday, on the eve of the big game’s 50th anniversary.

The list of ex-football players diagnosed with C.T.E. currently tops 100 athletes. Read the full Times story here.