Wayne Mabry aka the Violator is one the most recognizable Raiders fans ever. His costume has been seen in the Black Hole for over 25 years. He was even inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000. When the Raiders announced their move to Las Vegas there was a lot of speculation as to what the superfan would do. On December 31st, 2019 he discussed the rumors on whether he would be joining the team in Las Vegas and to talk some Raiders football.
Shapiro opens things up:
“You’ve been a fan of the Raiders, for what, 25 plus years. How did this all get started Violator?”
“It started in 1991, in the LA Coliseum. Just to get the crowd more emotionally involved in the game I felt they needed some of that college atmosphere, so I just figured I’ve got this alter ego in my head. I just released him in 91’. The rest is history. 28 years later here we are.”
Raiders fans are notorious for being a little over the top. My friends never seem to have a desire to come to games with me because they are scared. I always assure them fans are nice to me when I wear my Bo Jackson jersey. Perhaps I could understand that their reception would not be as warm when they wear Steelers or Chiefs apparel, but I digress. Wayne Mabry encapsulates everything a Raider fan should be. A crazy blind supporter of the team regardless of the antics surrounding the franchise. Escaping from the stresses of daily life on a Sunday and having fun around people with similar interests is what Raider Nation is all about. The community will always cherish what he has done for the team.
“What is your fondest memory in the 28 years you’ve been doing this? Like one or two moments where you say, ‘Wow for that moment I will never forget for the rest of my life.’
“The first one was actually meeting Al Davis and Jim Auto at the LA Coliseum. A friend of mine who knew when Al and Jim went up their boxes said, ‘Look, if you want to meet the man stay right here.’ So just meeting them face to face then just looking at me like what the hell is this. The second one was getting inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2000 in Kansas. Awesome, you could have never dreamt it as a fan. It was about feeling that raw emotion with the football game and that is what I still feel football is all about.”
My father also got a similar opportunity to meet Al Davis in LA. He always tells me that it’s his favorite memory as a Raiders fan as well. I think that just speaks volumes of the kind of person he was. Someone who loved the team more than anything else. He embraced the fans and was involved in every aspect of the team. He wanted nothing more than to win football games and make the Raiders must watch football. My personal favorite moment in my lifetime was Darren McFadden’s game against the Jaguars back in 2010. The Raiders lost that game, but I will never forget his performance. He was a man amongst boys that day. It looked like he was in a video game. That was probably the best Raiders team since 2002. The overall roster makeup, I believe, was better than the Raiders fluke year in 2016.
“What went through your mind the first time you heard the Raiders were moving to Vegas?”
“Like a punch in the gut and I am really speaking about areas lower than that. That was the first reaction because, you know, I dealt with them moving from Oakland to LA which is like a dream come true. Then they left LA and came back so for two days after they went back I couldn’t even function. I was like a zombie walking around at work and at home until I pulled my head out of my butt so to speak. I just said that wherever this team goes, I have to go too.”
That is the most important thing about being a sports fan. The franchise will always hold more importance than the city. The Raiders are a Hollywood team. They like to be in the headlines for splashy news. There was nothing more newsworthy than the announcement that the Raiders would be coming to Vegas and getting their own brand-new stadium. I appreciate Mr. Mabry’s dedication to a team that really left him in the dust. The reality was that Oakland wasn’t going to give the Raiders a solution. They had no real plans to build them a new stadium and wanted them to continue sharing an old one with the Oakland A’s. They had no choice but to look elsewhere.
“If you had a chance to sit with Mark Davis what would you say to him right now?”
“There wouldn’t be a whole lot of dialogue to say to him that he doesn’t already know. You know other than the years that I have put in and how deep the passion of the fans flows with us. That is not something we hang up when the football season is over. It’s sort of a lifestyle for us that we choose to follow, and we do it with everything that we’ve got. We are talking generations down. I know four or five generations of fans that have given their life and blood for it. We bleed silver and black.”
Raider Nation runs deep come hell or high water. As much as the team is frustrating to watch, I couldn’t imagine supporting anyone else. Davis had to make a tough decision but ultimately, I believe he made the right one. The Raiders deserve to play on a field that doesn’t have an outfield covering most of it. It has no place in the modern game of football. They needed to facilities and a way to grow the brand. I am glad they didn’t move too far from Oakland. Vegas is also a major destination for people and somewhere Raider fans will gladly travel to so they can watch the games.
Shapiro asks the most important question:
“You were asked, ‘is this your last Oakland game that you are going to go to? Are you going to be traveling to Las Vegas and are you going to remain a Raiders fan?’ Tell us your response to that.”
“What I actually said to everybody who posed that question to me was that this was my last shift in Oakland. I want to clarify this today if I can. So to put that notion to rest, I will be in Vegas.”
The Black Hole would never be the same with the Violator. He is the face of the fan base. The Raiders don’t need to rest of the world thinking the fan base had gone soft with a move to Vegas.
Shapiro asks an almost equally as important question:
“Let me ask you, if you don’t mind, how are you going to be able to afford season tickets? From my understanding, it is going to be a huge spike increase to what you were paying before.”
“Financially, yes you hit that on the head. I cannot afford the tickets but through my years of dedication, and I’ve done my praying on it, I just have it in my heart that things are going to work out and I’ll still be able to attend at least some of the games.”
I have to call out the Raiders organization on this one. The man is a Hall of Famer. He has represented the team for over 25 years. He deserves to have a seat every Sunday in the Black Hole where he belongs. While I am sure a fan will award him seats, I believe it is the franchises’ duty to take care of him. It would be great publicity for the team and mend some of the wounds that fans feel from them leaving Oakland.
Shapiro starts the discussion on the status of the Raiders:
“What do you think about the Gruden tenure so far? Do you agree with the 10-year, $100 million-dollar contract? Do you think that Derek Carr is a guy who could bring them to the promise land? I’ve said it time and time again. I don’t think he is an elite quarterback and I don’t think he is the kind of guy who can get the Raiders to the Super Bowl. What do you think?
“As far as Gruden and his pay scale, that is way above my pay grade. I wish I was in his shoes. I like Gruden’s attitude when he was there with us the first time. He brings that grit and that grind mentality which is what football was made around. Now everybody says, ‘Oh the game has changed. You’re like a throwback fan. You’re too ferocious. It’s entertainment.’ It can be all of that but it’s still football. You can draw it up different but don’t talk to me like the game has changed. Now as far as Derek Carr, that’s the best we’ve got since Rich Gannon. I’m gonna ride it with him until someone comes to beat him out. Now, football being a team game is no one super star quarterback who can win a championship by himself. It is a team sport and until you get your head wrapped that, all the other pieces have the work in unison with each other. That’s what makes championship winning football teams.”
I can’t blame Derek Carr alone for the Raiders missing the playoffs. Their defense was terrible. They ranked 19th in yards allowed per game, 24th in points per game, 25th in passing yards allowed per game, and had a -2 turnover differential overall. The game they had against the Packers was about the worst I have ever seen a defense perform except for Oklahoma against LSU in the Peach Bowl. With that being said, Derek Carr has proved disappointing in the most crucial moments of the season. In the London game, he was given the ball with about 7 minutes left and the Raiders were down 4. They only had one timeout remaining. He couldn’t even bring them down to the 50-yard line and they were forced to punt. He was bailed out by a roughing the kicker call that let them continue the drive. In week 8 they played the Texans. Carr was given the ball down three with 6 minutes remaining. That drive ended with a punt that cost them the game. Week 15 he was playing in the last home game ever in Oakland. The entire fan base knew the franchise was on the cusp of a playoff appearance and were playing a bad team in the Jaguars. He threw for 43 yards in the second half. Week 17 the Raiders still had a chance to make the playoffs. Ignoring all the other factors, they needed him to beat the lowly Broncos led by rookie quarterback Drew Lock. The Raiders scored 3 points on 3 trips to the RedZone in the first half and they lost that game. Even though he is the best quarterback the Raiders have had since Rich Gannon that doesn’t actually mean anything.
Sharp asks Mr. Mabry about the upcoming NFL draft:
“How do you think they are going to draft this year with the 12th and 19th pick position wise?”
“Me personally, I see our Achilles Heel being our defense. We need to shore up that linebacking unit. You can tell that’s my favorite position. We haven’t really had any heavy hitter back there since Mac Millen/ Greg Biekert back in those days. We need guys like that who are smart. When the league suspended our alpha dog, which is Burfict, we knew that was like cutting off your big toe so to speak. We were out of balance that whole time. You could see that all this talent we had amassed, we had still lost because we didn’t have that leadership force like Charles Woodson in his last season.”
The last good linebacker the Raiders had was Rolando McClain when they drafted him back in 2010 and the last thing heard from his was his involvement in insurance fraud. It has been very frustrating for Raider fans to pass guys off like Ben Heeney as starting caliber linebackers when they really aren’t. Burfict was fairly good this season but can’t help himself from trying to kill opposing players. The Raiders also need to find a receiver and I think there could be a great one available in the first round. It really looks like they are going to ignore the position again for another year.