Wayne Mabry's road to Canton has been an extremely unique one, considering he's never played a snap or been in a front office position for the team. Yet, somehow, as a longtime ambassador of the Silver and Black, Mabry has cemented his legacy in the franchise's fanbase in such an extraordinary way.
Mabry discovered the team he would have a lifelong love for more than 50 years ago in 1970. As a young child from Mississippi, the Raiders caught his eye as he was watching them playing the Kansas City Chiefs. Mabry described himself as a child who already had a love for everything medieval, and once the camera zoomed in on that iconic shield, the pirate and two cutlasses, he was hooked.
"Before I even knew what the team was called, I fell in love with that Silver and Black uniform," said Mabry. "I'm dreaming as a young kid: 'I'm going to go (to Oakland) and watch those guys live and all these years later I've been living a fan's dream."
Mabry will be joining Tom Flores and Charles Woodson as the Raiders representatives to be selected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2021. He described himself as "skeptical" when he first entered into the contest to be inducted into the Ford Hall of Fans. To his surprise several weeks later, he was contacted back by Ford and graced with a Raiders Hall of Famer at his doorstep.
"In the middle of my interview, I get a knock at my door. I'm thinking it's one of my neighbors curious as to what's going on, and why I had all of these media trucks in front of my house. At first I didn't want to answer the door, because I'm kind of upset someone is interrupting the interview, and now we have to start all over."
"I open the door to look outside, and Howie Long steps around the corner in his gold jacket. My knees buckled at that moment. I couldn't believe it, but at that moment it made this real to me."
Long was there to nominate Mabry as the Raiders' nominee for the Ford Hall of Fans. Long's relationship with Mabry dates back to the early 1980s, as Long has always admired his passion for the team and the encouragement he provided.
Mabry and his wife were flown to Tampa for Super Bowl LV to await the news of whether he was selected. After three hours of anxiously waiting, David Baker, the President and CEO of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, approached Mabry's room with the second knock to certify he was Canton bound.
"That was a great experience, and I'm looking forward to going back to Canton in August to go in with the great Coach Flores and Charles Woodson."
Since Mabry has retired from being a union carpenter for 36 years, he's been assisting his community in Morena Valley, California, by feeding veterans and lending a hand to kids battling cancer, autism and cerebral palsy.
In the midst of the pandemic, the Las Vegas Raiders opened their new Allegiant Stadium with no capacity for fans. Along with his induction into Canton, Mabry is most excited for the potential opportunity to view a game in the new stadium.
Mabry has had the opportunity to visit Allegiant Stadium and witness the "gorgeous" state-of-the-art faculty from the outside. But seeing what the stadium has inside to offer is not what he's looking forward to the most.
"It's seeing my brothers and sisters in Raider Nation, that's what we miss — each other. And I'm sure the team misses that too."