Steve Sabol Tribute: The Autumn Wind Is A Pirate

Cold, Hard Football Facts for Sep 19, 2012

The late Steve Sabol wrote this incredible tribute to the old Oakland Raiders


By Kevin Braig
The QuantCoach (@quantcoach)

Avast! Me hearty is heavy.

This was supposed to be a good clean fun column about what football coaches and pirates have in common as a tribute to International Talk Like A Pirate Day, the playful fake holiday popularized by former Miami Herald columnist Dave Barry and celebrated by many every September 19.

But on the eve of TLAP Day, all of us Sunday scally-wags lost Steve Sabol, the creative force behind NFL Films.  Sabol was 69 years old.

Quite simply, nobody ever talked like a pirate better than Sabol. 

His masterpiece was the epic poem he wrote in tribute to cold hard Al Davis’ Oakland Raiders entitled “The Autumn Wind is a Pirate.”

The Autumn wind is a pirate

Blustering in from the 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.

Sabol recognized that football teams have more in common with pirates than you might think.

Sabol knew that it is important to establish the rum …, er, run.

Since almost all pirates are guys, Sabol expected and tolerated a certain amount of salty-tongued barbarism.

“What the hell is going on out here!”--Lombardi

Sabol understood that football coaches and pirates speak a language that is virtually incomprehensible to most sofa locked lubbers.

“65 toss power trap!”--Stram

“Talking like a pirate is fun.  It’s that simple,” the ITLAPD official web-site reminds us.  “It gives your conversation a swagger, an elán, denied to landlocked lubbers,” the site says.

Nobody ever had more fun or elán than Sabol.

For decades, he and the rest of the NFL Films gang produced not only highlight films for each team, but also the immortal bloopers movies known as the “Football Follies.”

With Sabol’s passing, many have commented on these movies and their place football history.  But, while amazing, the films are not his most amazing legacy.

Aye, his most amazing legacy is captured in NFL Film’s A Football Life documentary of his father Ed, the founder of NFL Films, which documents how Steve and Ed essentially played their entire lives together.

It doesn’t get better than that, me hearties.

The Autumn wind is a pirate and it has carried Steve Sabol away.

In so doing, it has stolen a treasure.

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