The Autumn Wind PT.2

By Gary Norris Gray BASN Staff Reporter
Updated: July 10, 2012

Gary Norris Gray BASN Staff Reporter

OAKLAND, CA. (BASN)—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.

RAIDER NATION is wearing Black without the Silver this past week another one of the great men who wore Silver and Black traveled north to the heavens to play football on God’s team.

The Autumn Wind lyrics and melody played in my head each night. The low bellicose voice of John Facenda of Philadelphia’s WCAU-TV and NFL Films echoing the words, The Autumn Wind, The Raider National Anthem.

30- Mark Van Eeghan- Running back- the powerhouse runner for the Black and Silver from 1974-1981. The broad shouldered running back could power through lines and became the model for future running backs. Van Eeghan was an excellent blocker on sweep plays and ran for over 1,000 yards three years in a row. This number has been worn many more times but should be retired.


32- Marcus Allen- Running Back many call him “Mr. Raider”, even though he ended his career with the hated Kansas City Chiefs. Allen was the best running back in short yardage goal line situations because he knew how to squeeze through a hole. This could be called Al Davis biggest mistake letting Allen go in their own division as the Chiefs’ lost only one game against the Raiders when Allen played in Kansas City.


32- Jack Tatum – Safety- This was my favorite Raider because he put fear in receiver’s eyes every play down field. They knew that if they caught the ball in the middle of the field Jack Tatum would not be far behind to put their behind on the ground. The Darryl Stingley pre-season hit and injury in 1978 clouded Tatum’s fine career in Oakland. The fierce but clean Tatum hits would be fined today by Commissioner Goodell.


34- Bo Jackson- Running Back- Bo knows football. Every Raider fan remembers the Monday Night game when he ran over Seattle’s linebacker Brian Bosworth for a Raider touchdown. His professional career did not start off well with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers signing him in 1986. The Bucs wanted him to choose between baseball or football. Bo signed with the Kansas City Royals. In 1987 the Bucs forfeited their rights to Jackson and Al Davis saw the opportunity to sign Jackson. Davis knew that Bo loved baseball and signed a contract that would let him do so. Jackson still holds the Monday Night Football rushing record with 221 yards. This number should never be worn again.


35- Hewritt Dixon-Fullback-was born a generation too soon. Drafted out of FAMU by the Denver Broncos in 1963. Dixon languished on the bench for three years; partly because of the great Canadian star Cookie Gilchrist. When traded to Oakland, Dixon showed in his pass – catching and running ability the combination of hands and power that would have made Roger Craig envious. He averaged four yards a carry over seven seasons and an almost even split of 6000 total yards (3100 rushing, 2800 receiving). His size at 6’1″, 230 pounds not only made Dixon a legitimate power back from that era (4 Pro Bowls and one first team All-Pro) but a true East Coast offensive back (the so – called ‘West Coast’ offense was first deployed by Allie Sherman’s New York Giant teams of the mid-1960s)

36- Clem Daniels-Fullback-is another shining example of the untapped reservoir of endless talent which poured from the HBCUs. One of the most dominant backs in the AFL, Daniels could not strut his stuff right away, having to sit behind the great Abner Haynes on the Dallas Texans/K.C. Chiefs depth chart after coming in as an undrafted free agent in 1960.


But a trade to the Oakland Raiders was heaven sent. Al Davis knew what he was looking for. Daniels was a complete back: speed, hands, blocking, toughness and intelligence. He became a five – time consecutive all League tailback (1963 – 67) and an AFL co – Most Valuable Player in 1963. Daniels left the League before the merger but his impact was felt by every opponent in the AFL and NFL. Daniels averaged 4.5 yards a carry and 5,138 career rushing yards, in addition to over 3300 yards on 204 receptions. Daniels enters the Hall of Fame still an unknown soldier for the Black and Silver

37- Lester Hayes- Cornerback- Lester “the Molester” Hayes was a five time Pro Bowler. That endearing name would not work today because of the legal difficulties at Penn State University and Syracuse University; The moniker stuck because of the way Hayes stayed with his receiver, hands all over the opponents uniform. Hayes had to overcome his disabilities to play the game. Lester could finally speak in public without stuttering at the end of his career.Hayes made stickum famous with the yellow gooey stuff running down his legs every game. The NFL finally outlawed the use of stickum.


40- Pete Banaszak-Fullback- was the Oakland Raiders version of the Human bowling ball Banaszak took over for Clem Daniels in 1967 and became the sixth all team leading rusher. Pete will always be linked to the Holy Roller as he pushed the ball into the end zone.


43- George Atkinson- Safety- The first great Raider safety and part of the 11 Angry Men. He wrecked many opponents offense. Atkinson is the 5th All Time leading interceptor. Coach Chuck Noll of the Pittsburgh Steelers called Atkinson the criminal element of football at the same time teaching the Steelers to play the same way.


46- Todd Christensen- Tight End- is now a broadcaster on the Mountain West Sports Network after many years of a great football career. He was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys in 1978 after a college stint at BYU. He was cut after he broke a foot in preseason and released. The

New York Football Giants converted him to the tight end position and his career rocked. He became a star wearing the Black and Silver in 1979.

In his career, Christensen caught 461 passes for 5,872 yards and 41 touchdowns. In eight postseason games, he caught 31 balls for 358 yards and only one touchdown. He led the league in receptions twice, and had 349 receptions from 1983-86. This happens to be an NFL record.



©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod