Oilers went all in with trade for Ken Stabler
Not many teams have swapped starting quarterback for starting quarterback. It happened earlier this year, with the Rams giving up on Sam Bradford and the Eagles giving up on Nick Foles and both teams hoping that the guy the other team got rid of will be an upgrade over the guy each team got rid of.
In 1980, the Oilers had other plans. After losing to the Steelers two straight times in the AFC title game, Houston went all in in an effort to win it all, swapping 30-year-old quarterback Dan Pastorini to the Raiders for 34-year-old quarterback Ken Stabler.
Houston became a haven for former Raiders in 1980, with separate trades bringing safety Jack Tatum to the Oilers before the season and tight end Dave Casper during the season. With a roster that included Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell plenty of holdovers from the two-time conference finalists, the arrow was pointing straight up for Stabler and the Oilers.
Things got off to a rough start, with a 31-17 loss to the Steelers in Pittsburgh. But the Oilers managed to win 11 of the next 15 games, qualifying for the postseason and, fittingly, a trip to Oakland for a wild-card game.
Although Stabler and the Oilers led the Raiders 7-3 after the first quarter, the Raiders rolled from there, icing the 27-7 cake with a Stabler interception returned for a touchdown by cornerback Lester Hayes.
And it was the Raiders who’d parlay the Pastorini-Stabler trade into a Super Bowl win, but not because of Pastorini. He broke a leg in the fifth game of the season, opening the door for backup Jim Plunkett to lead the Raiders to the top of the mountain.
So while Stabler did much more than Pastorini in 1980, it was the Raiders who accomplished what the Oilers thought the deal would help them do.