There always seems to be the perception that if you live in Wisconsin, you’re automatically a Packers fan. Once you cross the border from any of the neighboring states, the belief is that, if you’re a Sconny, the Packers are akin to a religious experience.
Not so fast, my friend.
“I wasn’t,” Waynes said. “That’s a question I always get asked, was I a Packers fan? I liked players. I didn’t like one team.”
Waynes had his eyes on the prize of being an NFL player from a young age and, as his game evolved, he was interested in players that played his role. As a kid, he primarily played offense and his affinity was toward those players. Later on, as his became an elite high school cornerback, his interest moved to players who prevent points, not score them.
“Growing up, I always watched football on Sunday and I liked certain players,” Waynes said. “Growing up I liked offense because that is what I played. As I got older, it was defense.”
Waynes said his favorite individual players included guys like Sean Taylor and Ray Lewis. He liked them for what they did, not who they played for.
Even though he grew up in Wisconsin, Waynes said that the fan loyalty in Kenosha was divided between two NFC North teams. The Packers didn’t have a monopoly on Wisconsin fans, especially in Kenosha, where fans identified as much or more with the Bears than the Packers.
“Where I lived, I lived closer to Chicago than I did Green Bay,” Waynes said. “The Bears stadium was about an hour away and Green Bay was like three. Where I live is (a combination) of Bears and Packers (fans).”
Into that division of fan loyalty, Waynes has helped carve out a third-party candidate for the adoration of fans – the hated Vikings.
Whether you were a fan of the Bears or the Packers in Kenosha, there was a unanimity that finding a Vikings fan is like locating a needle in a very big haystack. They don’t come around that often and, considering their proximity in enemy territory, many of them would keep their Vikings allegiance under wraps.
Waynes may never be able to convert his family, friends and neighbors into climbing aboard the Vikings ship for the fan loyalty, but he is making in-roads. For most games, those close to him are fans of Minnesota ensconced in Wisconsin.
But, that does have its limitations – something that Waynes has come to deal with.
“They’re pretty much Vikings fans, unless we play the Bears or the Packers,” Waynes said.
For those Kenosha residents that have been part of Waynes’ life since childhood, Sunday may be a divisive scenario. They want Trae to succeed and his team to win, but not necessarily when they go head to head with the hated Packers.