There was a man with the voice like a herald during the Trojan War, a man who had a voice as loud as 50 men—these are descriptions of John Thomas Ralph Augustine James Facenda (August 8, 1913 – September 26, 1984).
The narrator of many of the historical NFL films is the sonorous voice of John Facenda. His nickname was "The Voice of God."
Facenda's career as an NFL film narrator got started as one of those "right place at the right time" events.
Facenda was in a local bar watching an NFL film. The founder of the film company, Ed Sabol, just happened to be at the bar. He heard the stentorian baritone voice of Facenda.
Ed Sabol walked up to Facenda and offered him a job. The beginning of a career that ended at Facenda's death started in the local bar.
Steve Sabol, son of Ed, wrote this poem:
The Autumn wind is a pirate
Blustering in from sea
With a rollicking song he sweeps along
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.
In 1974, Facenda delivered a powerful recitation of "The Autumn Wind" which is the Battle Hymn of the Raider Nation. The poem and its theme music are called the anthem for the Oakland Raiders.
NFL Films are an excellent resource for the younger generation to witness some of the most remarkable, historical plays of the Oakland Raiders and other NFL teams.
John Facenda narrated many films that highlighted NFL games.
We honor his contribution to the NFL and to archives, which can educate this generation of professional football fans.
Finally, may the "Autumn Wind" anthem of the Oakland Raiders strengthen the spirit of the 2011 team.