Sad news: American football star Ken Stabler, who played for the Oakland Raiders and New Orleans Saints, died Wednesday after suffering from complications with colon cancer. He was 69.

Earlier in the day, Tuscaloosa News retracted a story about Stabler’s death, after their story was prematurely published with only one source. Aaron Suttles, the reporter who issued the retraction, said publishing the story was a “horrible mistake.” He added: “I've worked my entire career to earn your trust. I apologize that we failed you today. But most of all I apologize to the Stabler family. There is no excuse for what happened today. Our news organization takes full responsibility for our error.”

People soon became confused about whether or not the news was a hoax, but unfortunately, it appears condolences are in order. Local WPMI-TV and Fox WBRC later confirmed his death. The Oakland Raiders also issued a statement.

Stabler, who was known as “The Snake,” was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer in February 2015, his family said in their Facebook statement. “He was a kind, generous and unselfish man, never turning down an autograph request or an opportunity to help someone in need. A great quarterback, he was an even greater father to his three girls and grandfather to his two ‘grand snakes,’” the statement said.

“We are grateful for the tremendous love and support from friends and fans. We ask that you please respect our privacy during this difficult time as we grieve this heartbreaking loss,” the post continued.

Stabler’s loved ones ask that donations be made to the XOXO Stabler Foundation in lieu of flowers. His three daughters, his two grandsons and his sister survive him.

Follow me on Twitter @mariamzzarella