Our very own Bearman, Don Wachter, is being enshrined today in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame in the Ford Hall Of Fans exhibit area.
Wachter, of Plainfield, Illinois, will be inducted into the hall, attend the Hall of Fame game with the other inductees, and receive a “Hall Of Fans” blue jacket.
The press announcement from Ford and the Hall Of Fame:
The inaugural Ford Hall of Fans class was honored today, representing some of the most passionate fans in the NFL. The Ford Hall of Fans exhibit that celebrates NFL fandom was unveiled at a ceremony this morning at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, during Enshrinement Week.
The exhibit highlights 2019 Ford Hall of Fans class members Roger Avila (Miami Dolphins fan), Don Wachter (Chicago Bears fan) and Rick Holman (Pittsburgh Steelers fan).
The honorees will also be recognized this evening at a pregame presentation leading up to the Hall of Fame Game between the Atlanta Falcons and Denver Broncos at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, located adjacent to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Tomorrow evening, Ford Hall of Fans honorees will receive prestigious Ford Hall of Fans Blue Jackets from Mark LaNeve, Vice President, US Marketing Sales & Service, Ford Motor Company, and David Baker, President & CEO, Pro Football Hall of Fame, at the Enshrinees Gold Jacket Dinner.
”Ford is proud to recognize three of the most passionate NFL fans in the country with their installment into the 2019 Ford Hall of Fans,” said LaNeve. “Through online polling, the fans have spoken and we look forward to these individuals being granted the well-deserved honor at the newly-created Ford Hall of Fans display in Canton.”
Wachter, 56, of Plainfield, Illinois, is a Bears season-ticket holder of 33 years. Known among Chicago fans as “Bearman,” he gets up at 3a.m. before Bears home games to paint his face and suit up in his trademark bear’s head in preparation for a 5a.m. tailgate. From 1998 to 2004, Wachter would fire up the crowd by running onto Soldier Field carrying a large Bears flag before every game.
Avila, 56, of Miami, is a 24-year season-ticket holder known as “Dolfan Maniac.” He attends every Dolphins home game wearing his signature No. 40 Miami jersey, white helmet and face paint. When Avila, who serves as a chaplain, is not cheering on his team, he frequently visits the Miami-area prison and preaches to inmates.
Holman, 40, of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, is a high school history teacher and volunteer youth softball coach. At age 21, he sold nearly everything he owned to buy Steelers season tickets and has been a ticket holder for 18 straight years. This lifelong fan even has his baby pictures in a Steelers onesie.
The Ford Hall of Fans, in partnership with the Pro Football Hall of Fame, celebrates the passion that everyday heroes bring to football. “Without the fans, there is no fame”, it notes. The honorees were informed of their nominations by Hall of Famers Dan Marino, Brian Urlacher and Terry Bradshaw.
“We thank Ford for making it possible to recognize the best fans from across the NFL,” said Baker. “We offer our sincere congratulations to this inaugural class and are proud to showcase them in Canton.”
The new exhibit includes a component in which visitors to the Hall of Fame can record and submit 30-second personal testimonies on why they should be nominated to the Ford Hall of Fans.
Fans can enter for a chance to be in the running for the 2020 Ford Hall of Fans class by completing a nomination on www.FORDHALLOFFANS.com/football. The site includes a sweepstakes where fans can enter for a chance to win a Ford F-150, tickets to Super Bowl LIV and Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement.