Following a football season overrun with off-the-field issues, it seemed appropriate that GM Rick Spielman would open Friday afternoon’s press conference with a story to demonstrate Trae Waynes’ strong character.
According to Spielman, his brother-in-law lives in Chicago and has a friend whose daughter underwent cleft palate surgery earlier this week. Prior to the surgery, Waynes spent time with the child, taking a picture holding the infant. Spielman said the following:
I know what he can do on the football field, I know what kind of family he comes from, and right now I know what kind of person he is.
When Waynes took the podium for the first time as a Minnesota Viking, he also paid credit to his family and his upbringing.
“My parents were hard on me and my brother,” he said. “My dad was actually my guidance counselor. They kept us out of trouble and raised us right. I owe all that to them.”
Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer both reemphasized their excitement for having Waynes here in Minnesota and the impact he will have on the team. Zimmer said that it seems most all players with outstanding athletic ability play offense nowadays, so it can be tough to find really good CBs in the Draft. The coach believes Waynes is an exception to that rule, however.
“Trae has excellent ball skills, he’s a great competitor, big heart,” he said.
Waynes described the emotional roller coaster over the past 24 days, from the pre-draft anxiety to the excitement of traveling to Minnesota.
“After I got that call, I was able to breathe a little bit,” Waynes said. “And then I realized I’d be able to start on this new journey.”
The cornerback is thrilled to be play in Minnesota—not only because it will be closer proximity to his family, but because he understands the depth and talent of Zimmer’s defense and what that means for him as a player.
Coach Zim’s a DB guru […] I’m really excited to see what type of player he can make me into, and hopefully I can make an impact on his defense.
When asked about the threatening offense of NFC North rival teams, Waynes welcomed the question rather than shying away from it. He assured that he will be spending a lot of time in the film room, but that he’s excited for the challenge and “embrace[s] competition.”
Waynes spoke to the skillset he learned at Michigan State and the strong coaching system there for CBs. According to Waynes, there were schemes and play options the defense learned even if they were never used in a game. Preparation seems to be a common theme for Waynes, and the maturity level is impressive.
Toward the end of the presser, one media member asked Waynes about the potential he had in college to pursue professional baseball. He smiled before answering:
“Football is my passion. This is what I love to do. I got ejected for [baseball] two games because I ran over the catcher out of frustration, so obviously I needed to stick with football. This is my dream.”