In today’s sports, it seems every team’s fans like to coin their base as a “nation.” There’s Falcon Nation, Bulls Nation, Jet Nation, Marlin Nation (REALLY?).
There has been one constant in that of the NFL when it comes to the “nation” of fans. That is Raider Nation & Steeler Nation. And these two bases argue over who the originators were.
It all started in 1974 with a poem, narrated by the legendary “voice of god,” John Facenda. Steve Sabol’s football masterpiece, named “The Autumn Wind” is synonymous with the Oakland Raiders as they have made it the unofficial team anthem.
The late Al Davis, considered it as “the epitome of what the Raiders stand for”. And it soon became the battle hymn of Raider Nation.
This, however, is NOT the birth of the known Raider Nation. It is only simply the origin of where the Raiders got their anthem from.
Some say it is directly coined by Al Davis himself in 1968, in which Davis allegedly makes a comment after a game, saying, “toast to the nation.” This doesn’t necessarily reflect that Al Davis created the “Raider Nation” through that comment. There’s also little to no evidence or documentation to support the idea that Davis created the term.
Another theory is that the origin is more based upon the traveling Raiders fans from the Oakland area to Los Angeles to support their home team, which built the numbers of the Raider Nation and turned it into what it is today.
There are different theories to support that the Raiders are the “originators” of having a nation, but little evidence to prove that they are.
Conversely the evidence that the Pittsburgh Steelers are the originators of the “Nation” is documented.
The same John Facenda who narrated the poem that eventually became the Raider anthem was the first to coin the Steeler fan base as a nation in 1975. “The Blueprint For Victory” was the team highlight film for their 1975 Super Bowl X winning team vs. the Dallas Cowboys.
“The Dallas Cowboys played their hearts out, but they were a single team against an entire nation.”
Thus, the Steeler Nation title has it’s reputation solidified in NFL history. Raider Nation is still quite valid and also an innovator, and all nations after it are simply imitators. However, Steeler Nation was crowned first.