09 October 2011

The Autumn Wind

On Sundays (and some Saturday evenings), I usually glued to Race Day, the two-hour pre-race show on SPEED Channel.  But today, I switched over to FOX NFL Sunday, the one-hour Sunday football show.  Howie Long is one of the panelists, and he was a Raider for 13 years.  I knew that every national pre-game show would have a segment on Al Davis, but I particularly wanted to catch what Howie had to say about Mr. Davis.

But it was actually what Terry Bradshaw (the former Steelers quarterback who won four Super Bowls) said that was more poignant.  When Bradshaw (who my mom would leave her husband for in a New York minute) retired, he had returned to his Louisiana ranch, and he got a call from Mr. Davis one day.  They talked for a bit, and Davis asked how he was doing financially.  Bradshaw said he "was okay - nothing coming in, nothing going out."  And Davis told him, "If you ever need ANYTHING, you give me a call and let me know."  And he and other panelists commented about how such offers wouldn't be made in this day and age.  Davis valued loyalty above all else, and if he saw something in you that warranted his loyalty, you had it forever.

Now, for those of you who don't know your football history, this is huge.  For the owner of the Raiders to make a gesture like that to someone from the Steelers organisation is no small thing.  The Steelers are the team who benefited from the play known as the Immaculate Reception.  In fact, Bradshaw said that one time (before the call), he happened to sit at a table near Davis, and he didn't say hi to Davis because of the history between the Raiders and Steelers, but Davis waved him over and they shared a meal together.

One thing Howie Long said that I think is important, though, is also something that makes me sad.  Although I have no illusions that the Raiders will take the big prize this season, I do think this season is a turning point.  And it saddens me that our fearless leader won't be able to see the ship righting itself.  And I hope his death won't mean that everything falls apart.

In closing, "The Autumn Wind," the unofficial anthem of the Raiders.  It's often played at our home games:

The Autumn wind is a pirate
Blustering in from sea
With a rollicking song he sweeps along
Swaggering boisterously.
His face is weatherbeaten
He wears a hooded sash
With a silver hat about his head
And a bristling black mustache
He growls as he storms the country
A villain big and bold
And the trees all shake and quiver and quake
As he robs them of their gold.
The Autumn wind is a Raider
Pillaging just for fun
He'll knock you 'round and upside down
And laugh when he's conquered and won.

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