November 14, 1977 12:00 PM

I’ve got bad ways. Part of me wants the dog, TV, kids and fireplace, the other part wants to chase,” admits Oakland Raider quarterback Ken Stabler while sipping whiskey at Clancy’s, a team hangout. After home games the Raiders often take over the mike and entertain the crowd. Alabama-born Stabler’s contribution is to yodel Dixie. “Drunk, you can do anything,” he reckons, then adds thoughtfully, “Even when I’ve been bombed the night before a game I’ve played good.”

At 31 Stabler has led the Super Bowl champion Raiders into a tie with the Denver Broncos for first place in the Western Division of the AFC. One of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the league (a reported $1.2 million over the next four years), Stabler is known for his accurate, bullet-fast passes. In high school he was also a scrambler whose zigzagging runs downfield earned him the nickname “Snake.”

“I’ve got choicer names for him,” says Wanda Blalock, 26, an ex-model from Jackson, Ala. and his current honey. Maybe another animal? Like “Stallion”? A friend talks about the Super Bowl last January in Pasadena: “It was a meat market. Women came up wanting Snake to sign their breasts. They would do anything to be with him for a night.” Stabler protests: “I’d rather have a challenge than someone just coming on.”

Twice divorced, Stabler feels burned by marriage. His first, at 22, was to Isabel Clarke, a fellow student at the University of Alabama. It ended after two and a half years, and his daughter, Kendra, now 7, lives with her mother in Phoenix. At 29, Stabler tried again with Debbie Fitzsimmons, the daughter of a policeman and 10 years his junior. This time it lasted two years; the divorce will soon be final. Stabler concedes that his marital disasters can be blamed partly on his preoccupation with football and his strong feelings for the South. “Both wives loved California,” he says, “while I’m hellbent to get back home. They were jealous of the time I spent with buddies talking boats, trucks and women.”

Born and reared in Foley, Ala. (pop. 4,000), Stabler was the son of a garage mechanic and a nurse. Nine years ago his father, Leroy (6’5″, 220 lbs.), died of a heart attack at 46. “I’ve thought about it,” says Ken of his boozing and womanizing, “but I’m not going to change my ways.” A natural athlete, he was offered a baseball contract as a pitcher with the Pittsburgh Pirates at 17, but headed instead for Tuscaloosa and the university. “I studied just enough to play football,” he admits. “I am not proud of it.”

By the end of his junior year he was cutting classes, ignoring football curfew (“I made the acquaintance of some ladies in Mobile”) and smashing up cars with such zeal that coach Bear Bryant suspended him. Wisely, Stabler settled down, and at graduation Bryant praised him as “the best passer I ever had.” Stabler claims, “He’ll say the same thing about his quarterback this year.”

After college Stabler signed with the Raiders and played nine seasons before last year’s Super Bowl victory. “It relieved a lot of pressure,” he says. “I finally got the job done.” Discipline hasn’t been a problem because “pro football is a livelihood, a car payment. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Christian or an outlaw off the field. What matters is what you do on the field.”

Though Stabler owns a condominium in Oakland, he is designing a stone, glass and redwood home in Gulf Shores, a resort area 50 miles southeast of Mobile. Wanda, whom he began dating last April, worked as a sales representative in a hotel there. “We first met when I was 16 and he took me for a ride in his sporty car,” she says. “He tried to kiss me. I wouldn’t let him. I was just a baby and innocent.” “Ohhh, brother,” Ken winces.

Off season Stabler runs a football camp for kids in Marion, Ala. and races speedboats. An impulsive shopper, he’s bought five of the powerful craft in the last four years, along with 20 cars—”pickups, ‘Vettes, dune buggies. Me owning a Rolls would be like earrings on a pig.” Although he’s not in great demand for endorsements—his life-style and being in Oakland don’t help—he recently taped an Antonio y Cleopatra “see-gar commercial” and he will guest on Dinah! Nov. 25. Because he loves kids and wants more, he figures someday he’ll marry again. “Divorce sets you back a bit,” he says, “but you got to accept the bitter with the sweet.” Anyway, he adds, “Winning cures everything—even a head cold.”

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