Quarterback Ken Stabler persisted in his association with a well-known New Jersey gambling figure despite repeated warnings from executives of the Oakland Raiders, The New York Times reported in today's editions.
The Times reported that Stabler's relationship with bookmaker Nicholas Dudich of Perth Amboy began and grew during his last four years with the Raiders. Stabler was traded to the Houston Oilers before the 1980 season and rejoined the Oilers last week after earlier announcing his retirement.
The Times quoted law enforcement officials as emphasizing that such associations by themselves were not illegal and that Stabler had not been accused of any crime.
According to The Times report, executives of the Raiders reported Stabler's association with Dudich to the NFL.
Al LoCasale, executive assistant to General Managing Partner Al Davis, told The Times he informed Stabler and his attorney in 1977 that "this guy, according to information we have, is not someone you ought to be hanging around with."
The Times said that attempts to reach Stabler for comment before publication failed. (The Oilers played a preseason game last night at Dallas.)
Stabler's attorney and agent, Henry Pitts, said he had never heard of Dudich.
Jim Heffernan, a spokesman for NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, said the league was aware of Stabler's alleged association with Dudich and was looking into it.
According to The Times, however, NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle said no league official had made any reports to him about Stabler's association with Dudich.
Dudich, 63, when reached by The Times, said, "I went to some football games, that's all."
The Times quoted a variety of law enforcement agencies as saying Stabler had been under physical surveilance and other investigations in both Oakland and Houston. The Times said the investigations focused on Stabler's continuing association with Dudich after Stabler led the Raiders to a Super Bowl victory on Jan. 9, 1977.
The newspaper reported Dudich first was noticed by Raider officials during the 1976 season. The paper reported Dudich became a frequent visitor to the Raiders' training camp in 1977.
"We're aware of it (Stabler's alleged association with Dudich) and as we do with everything else, we'll look into it," said Heffernan. "At this point, there is nothing more to be said."