I became a fan late in the 2008 season after my dad purchased a cable TV service that included ESPN America (known back then as NASN). It was at that time that I was first exposed to college football and fell in love with the sport immediately. But although college football was fun, it was nothing compared to the big boys. So in search of my team, I did what every boy does… ask dad.
My dad had been a Raider fan since the late 80’s but stopped following the sport after he returned from his studies. As my dad told me about Al Davis and how he was a good friend with my dad’s uncle, I began to watch videos of the Raiders on Youtube. I was mesmerized by the mystique, the hard hits and the long bomb. But above all were the goosebumps the Autumn Wind would give me – and it still does. From then on, every October, whenever I feel that cool breeze during late afternoon, I hear the drums roll and John Facenda’s heavenly voice.
The team has shaped who I am in countless ways. I decided to study in the US instead of England, where 95% of my classmates went, because of my love for this team. I stayed up until 2 am on Sunday nights just to watch Russell, Frye, and Gradkowski play QB for us. Surely it was tough, but I believed that our day would come.
And here we are in 2016 first in the division. And although many will say we are a finesse team because we pass a lot, I don’t see that. I see a team that in many ways is filled with renegade individuals and playing rugged football. Carr a QB who was judged by many because of his last name; Crabtree a guy who many thought he was washed up; Amerson picked from Washington’s dumpster; Penn a left tackle that ranks top 5 in the league who got released by the Bucs. The list can go on and on…
And so as this November comes to an end and the Autumn Wind blusters in to bring havoc once more, I remember John Facenda’s words “Hopes that were high in the heat of September can wilt and die in the chill of November”. Finally after a long wait, the Autumn wind doesn’t wilt or die in November. On the contrary, this wind might be fierce enough to take us to late January or dare I say February.
Written by: Marios Kontopyrgos