Welcome to Cheesehead Origins, an offseason series geared toward showcasing Packer fans with interesting fandom origin stories! CheeseheadTV is devoted to Packer fans worldwide, and we want to hear (and share) your stories.
This offseason’s Cheesehead Origins series has taken us around the country and even other parts of the world. For today’s profile we’re heading to South America for the first time, as our chosen subject is from Brazil!
Wendell Ferreira is a 31-year-old Brazilian journalist who is a relatively new contributor here at CheeseheadTV and, obviously, a big-time Packer fan. He’s got a wife, a son (Bernardo) and an established career–he’s been covering the NFL in Portuguese for 12 years!
In February, a career change allowed him to start covering the Packers in English for Zone Coverage, CHTV and Third Down Thursdays. It’s been a fun shift for Wendell, who has been watching the sport in Brazil since his teenage years.
“I decided I wanted to be a sports journalist, and so I should learn as many sports as I could,” he said. “And then I fell in love with the NFL.”
For the first couple years watching the sport Wendell did so without a real rooting interest. I did love to watch the Colts because of Peyton Manning and the Steelers because of Troy Polamalu, but it took a bit for him to develop an affinity for any particular team.
“When I bought the Madden video game I started playing with the Packers and became a fan, especially when I studied the ownership structure and the history of the franchise,” he said.
From that point on, Wendell has been a big-time fan. And as the years have gone by, it’s become easier for him to keep up with the sport from afar.
“When I first started watching football in the mid-2000s, it was harder to have access to games and information,” he said. “There were two games broadcasted by ESPN Brazil on Sundays and Monday nights, and there wasn’t as much coverage on the internet. Nowadays it’s much easier. Football has gone through a jump in popularity in Brazil, so ESPN broadcasts a week.”
Wendell mentioned the two biggest fanbases in Brazil seem tob e for the Packers and Patriots, which means the Packers are frequently featured on Brazilian cable television.
“The best thing is that now there is a significant niche of Packers fans here, with a lot of people producing content in Portuguese.”
When Wendell first started watching the team he was primarily watching the Brazilian broadcast team.
“ESPN Brazil was doing a great job of explaining rules to new fans,” he said. “And the main play-by-play caller was Everaldo Marques, a Brazilian journalist and also a Packer fan.I didn’t begin supporting Green Bay because of him, but he was a model for the way I wanted my career to go.”
Those broadcasts were a major influence on Wendell’s fandom early on, and helped him develop a fast appreciation for the game–by having the rules explained in his primary language.
As mentioned, Wendell was already shooting for a career in sportswriting when he first became interested in the NFL. Including American football in his sportswriting arsenal only made sense once he actually got into his career.
When he first got started out he covered all the major American sports, particularly the NFL and NBA. But only recently did he start writing in English.
“This year I sent emails to Tom Schreier from Zone Coverage and to the CHTV team, because I wanted to start writing about the NFL in English to reach a larger public,” he said. “Both answered me, and both gave me the opportunity to cover the Packers. And it’s been an amazing experience to me, because talking about the Packers is something very natural and that I enjoy so much.”
Wendell has yet to make it to Green Bay (or even to the United States), but says it is “obviously” a dream of his to be able to travel to Green Bay and take a tour of Lambeau FIeld.
“The best part is that recently I”ve made a lot of Wisconsin friends via Twitter, so I’m sure when my opportunity arrives, it’ll be special.”
While he may be watching the games from afar, that doesn’t mean his experience is any less intense.
“I [like] to watch games alone, because I get really nervous and sometimes I have to control myself,” he said.
Beginning this fall with a changing work schedule he’ll be able to watch every game from home, and jokes that he will have to “preserve good levels of [his] blood pressure.”
Wendell sees a lot to be excited about in this 2022 edition of the Packers.
“Obviously the defense has the chance to be the best of the Aaron Rodgers era, but I’m going in a different direction here. I’m excited to watch the offensive line when David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins are both healthy again. The wide receiver group certainly took a hit without Davante, so a leap from the line is imperative for the offense to keep or improve its level from last season.”
I always ask my interviewees if there’s anything else they’d like to add–stories, shoutouts or anything else they want to leave our readers with. Wendell simply finished with some words of gratitude.
“I want to thank the Wisconsin and American Packer fans in general,” he said. “When I started writing, I feared there could be some critics because I’m an outsider, and because Brazil has a strong soccer tradition, not a football one. But the reception so far has been nothing short of amazing, and the feedback has always been constructive and positive. So it’s been awesome to be a part of the Packers fandom family.”
The Packer fandom is truly a worldwide collection of folks, and it’s always great to see that passion thriving thousands of miles away, on different continents!
Many thanks to Wendell Ferreira once again for taking part in this series! You can follow him on twitter at @wendellfp.
Three more weeks of Cheesehead Origins left before we are back in training camp mode and my in-season columns return. Looking forward to sharing three more people’s stories!
Tim Backes is a lifelong Packer fan and a contributor to CheeseheadTV. Follow him on Twitter @timbackes for his Packer takes, random musings and Untappd beer check-ins.