Talk of Fame Network
Former Baltimore Colts' linebacker Stan White calls the 1977 playoff loss to Oakland – the memorable "Ghost to the Post" game – "the worst Christmas nightmare ever," and that’s understandable.
He played for the losing team.
"Every time I see it on ESPN Classic," he said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast celebrating the great games and players of December, "I keep thinking we're still going to win because there's no way we can lose this game.
"I guess (when I recall that game) I think Dave Casper right away, making that miraculous catch over the shoulder the way he did … Willie Mays style."
It was a remarkable catch, and it helped launch Casper to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But it did not help launch the man who threw it, quarterback Ken Stabler, until many, many years later. In fact, Stabler wasn’t inducted until the past summer when he was elected posthumously as a senior nominee.
And that’s something else Stan White, now an analyst for Baltimore Ravens' broadcasts, has a difficult time comprehending.
"I don’t know why it took him so long," he said. "He was the quarterback I could never tell where he was throwing the ball. To get an interception you've got to read the quarterback and be able to get a j ump on the ball.
"He was left-handed, and he didn’t throw the ball straight; he sort of turned to the side as he went to throw it. He would throw it one way, and I thought he would throw it the other way. I never knew where the ball was going with him, and I think that was part of his mystique.
White should know. In 1975 he had eight interceptions, a league record for linebackers. But Stabler was different than others, he said.
"Defenders couldn’t read him like you could every other quarterback that you played against," he said. "So I found him extremely, extremely tough to play against.
"He would do anything it took to win. They called him 'the Snake' because he would scramble … he would do anything. He wasn’t afraid to do anything. He was a tough, very good … great quarterback … who knew how to win football games."
(Stan White photos courtesy of Indianapolis Colts)