There was a man who had a 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).
Many of the historical NFL films are narrated by Facenda's booming voice. 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 known as the anthem of the Oakland Raiders.
NFL Films is an excellent resource for the younger generation to witness some of the most remarkable, historical games played by the Oakland Raiders and all the great classic NFL teams.
John Facenda narrated many of the films that the NFL has chosen to preserve.
We honor his contribution to the NFL and to its archives, which can educate this generation of professional football fans.
Finally, may the "Autumn Wind" strengthen the spirit of Oakland Raiders team in 2011