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Howie Long nominates ‘Violator’ for fan Hall of Fame

Updated January 27, 2021 - 2:41 pm

When Waybe Mabry started putting on silver-and-black war paint and body armor and affecting a menacing demeanor on Raiders game days as his alter ego “Violator” nearly 30 years ago, it would have been naive of him to think nobody would notice.

He just never dreamed that Howie Long, the Ford Motor Company and the Pro Football Hall of Fame would notice, too.

The uber Raiders’ supporter is one of six NFL superfans who have been nominated for the Ford Hall of Fans. The three top vote-getters will be flown into Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Florida, and honored in a display at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

“Just the way it happened is what I will always remember,” said the retired 64-year-old union carpenter from his home near Riverside, California, who plans to spend Sundays (and the occasional Monday night) in Las Vegas once fans are let inside Allegiant Stadium after COVID-19.

He said a film crew showed up at his home to interview him for the Hall of Fans website when there was an unexpected knock on the door.

Howie’s calling

“I’m thinking one of my neighbors couldn’t resist coming over to see what was going on — there were trucks and equipment out front like we were throwing Mardi Gras or something,” Mabry said. “I got upset because I was being taped. But the director said go answer it, we’ll resume when you get back.

“I get to the door, nobody’s there. I stick my head out to see who’s playing games. And then who comes strutting around the corner in his gold (Hall of Fame) jacket but Howie, and he’s grinning, and I knew then they got me good.”

If you’re gonna punk the Violator, or fete him in a way not previously fathomable, you gotta come strong.

“They came strong, I will give them that,” Mabry said with a robust chuckle. “That was the real honor right there, just being nominated by Howie Long.”

In real life, Mabry wears black-rimmed eyeglasses that, combined with his stocky build, make him look like Mike Singeltary, the former Chicago Bears’ Hall of Fame middle linebacker. They also make him look unassuming, which he is. Except on Sunday, when he applies the war paint and dons the spiked shoulder pads and becomes “Violator,” which is how he is pictured on the voting site.

One of the other Hall of Fans finalists is a former Arizona Cardinals cheerleader.

“Beauty and the beast,” Mabry said.

Sunshine and fellowship

He said developing a not-so-secret identity has allowed him to “live my dream,” which is to attend Raiders games so long as he is able. It also has helped him dispel a notion that not all Raiders fans are to be judged by their cover.

“This character Violator has allowed me to touch people,” he said about interacting with children battling cancer, cerebral palsy and autism, and former U.S. servicemen in need through a Raiders classic car club.

“Getting some sunshine and some fellowship, that’s what it’s all about,” Mabry said.

The Hall of Fans voting ends Sunday. The three winners will be among Ford’s guests at the Super Bowl, which Mabry has never attended. Even when the Raiders made it that far, tickets to the big game for he and Mrs. Violator (or “Violated,” as Mabry’s wife, Bertha, wears on the back of her Raiders’ jersey) were beyond his means.

He could not place a dollar figure on how much he has spent following the itinerant Raiders around the NFL, but said that every penny has been worth it. He would feel that way even if Howie Long had not come around from the blind side to tell him his devotion and benevolence were worthy of Hall of Fame consideration.

“You sacrifice a lot to be there, but those moments are priceless,” he said. “It’s the memories. At the end of the day, that’s all we really have.”

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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