Sabol Files: The First Autumn Wind

Oakland Raiders, Sabol Files, Steve Sabol

Through the years the Raider identity has been embodied by a host of hard cases and rough customers, men like running back Marv Hubbard, who once prepared himself for a game by punching out the window of a nearby dry cleaner, and offensive tackle Bob Brown, who was reported to have a sharpened screw in his helmet to discourage head slapping by Deacon Jones.

Players that other teams rejected as malcontents were embraced as men of mettle by the Raiders, who depending on their particular talents in a given year, won with the run, the pass, with defense or with kicking.  It was the combination of these raw elements – like a blend of earth, water, wind and fire — that made the Silver and Black into a football force of nature.

That was the explanation I gave to our composer Sam Spence when asking him to create a song that could accompany a new poem I’d written about the Raiders.  The lines were inspired by classics like Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s, “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Robert W. Service’s “The Cremation of Sam McGee,” and Rudyard Kipling’s, “The Law of the Jungle.”  Writing in verse helped me describe the Raiders in the poetic terms I felt their unique personality deserved, and Sam’s music gave life to the words with a sound unlike any other in our library.

Below are some of my poetry notes and research.  The first image is a clipping of Service’s “The Law of the Yukon.”

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After the song and poem were combined, they aired for the first time in the 1974 edition of Championship Chase.  As it originally appeared in that film, here’s a look back at “The Autumn Wind,” on this, the first day of autumn.

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