‘Bearman’ to be honored by Pro Football Hall of Fame

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Don Wachter prowls the forest of tailgaters near Soldier Field, 2006. | Ruthie Hauge~Sun-Times Media Original: Published: La Grange Village Forester Don ÒBearmanÓ Wachter prowls the forest of tailgaters near Soldier Field Dec.17, before the Chicago BearsÕ game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. WachterÕs alter ego has long been a popular figure at home games, as evidenced by the many requests for photos he receives as he makes his way toward the stadium. (Doings photos by Ruthie Hauge) Original: Chicago 12/17/06 Tailgating Bears fans stare at Don “Bearman” Wachter, of Plainfield, as he walks toward Soldier Field for the Chicago Bears vs. the Tampa Bay Buccaneers football game, in Chicago, on Sunday, December 17, 2006. Don is considered the “Ultimate Bears Fan” because he comes to every home game in his “Bearman” costume. Doings photo by Ruthie Hauge.

Don Wachter, whose “Bearman” costume has made him among the franchise’s most devoted and unique fans, is headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He is one of three fans who will be honored in an exhibit called the Ford Hall of Fans. Thursday, all three of the finalists — Wachter,Steelers fan Rick Holman and Dolphins fan Roger Avila — received a knock from Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker at their Atlanta hotel rooms.

“The tension was so high,” he said. When” I heard that [knock], it was just unbelievable. I don’t know how to explain it. I was just so exhilarated.”

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Wachter, 56, is a Plainfield resident who’s been a Bears season-ticket holder for 33 years. Since November 1996, he’s worn a bearskin rug that he bought from a taxidermist in Palatine. He wears the bear’s head as a hat. From 1998 to 2004, he ran onto the field with the team and waved a flag.

The Bears first suggested Wachter to the Hall of Fame. More than 170,000 votes online produced the three finalists.

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