The “Autumn Wind” is still a Raider, but he’s no longer blustering in from the sea.
Instead, as John Facenda of N.F.L. Films might intone in his oft-heard dramatic reading of the poem synonymous with the Raiders franchise, he has taken his hooded sash and silver hat and moved to the desert in Las Vegas.
There, he and his swaggering teammates are playing host to the New Orleans Saints in the first N.F.L. game in the city, at newly built Allegiant Stadium on Monday night.
The Raiders’ arrival in Sin City is more than just a new flag planted on the N.F.L.’s intercontinental map marking where games have been played. It’s also more than the unveiling of the gleaming new, $2 billion stadium, replete with its 85-foot carbon fiber and aluminum Al Davis Memorial Torch, made from a 3-D printer. It is the physical manifestation of a long, slow embrace between the country’s biggest sports league and legal sports wagering that is a stone’s throw from the Las Vegas Strip.
The league still has strict rules barring players, coaches and league personnel from betting and entering casinos, to reduce the “potential risks to the integrity” of the game. But for decades, the league also held the gambling industry at arms-length, even though football is by far the most popular sport for bettors.