Ken Stabler, one of the most accurate passers in National Football League history, is retiring, the New Orleans Saints announced last night. Stabler will be 39 on Christmas Day.

"He's been nothing but a credit to the game his entire career, on and off the field, and we hate to see him go," said Bum Phillips, the Saints' coach and general manager and one of Stabler's closest friends.

Stabler, serving as backup to Richard Todd, had completed only 33 of 70 passes this season for two touchdowns.

For his career, Stabler finished with 2,270 completions in 3,793 attempts -- nearly a 60 percent average -- for 27,938 yards and 194 touchdowns.

He led the American Football Conference in passing yards with 1,997 in 1973 and led the NFL in passing in 1976 with 2,737 yards and 27 touchdowns.

During a 10-year career with Oakland, Stabler led the Raiders to a 32-14 decision over Minneapolis in Super Bowl XI. He was named the NFL's most valuable player in 1977.

The Raiders traded him in 1980 to Houston, where Phillips was head coach. The Oilers reunited Stabler with Phillips at New Orleans in 1982 . . .

Former NFL player Charles Janerette, 45, died in Philadelphia after being shot by a policeman following an apparent attempt to steal a police cruiser.

Janerette starred as an offensive lineman at Penn State in the late 1950s and played in the NFL for the Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants, New York Jets and Denver Broncos, and in the Canadian Football League for Hamilton.

He had reportedly been undergoing treatment for emotional problems . . .

The Arizona Wranglers of the U.S. Football League have signed all-star wide receiver Trumaine Johnson to a 10-year, multimillion-dollar contract, the Phoenix Gazette reported. No other specifics were given.