Will ‘Bearman’ get picked for Hall of Fame exhibit? He’ll find out Friday
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ATLANTA — Like Brian Urlacher did a year ago, Don Wachter will wait in his hotel room Friday, hoping for a knock from Pro Football Hall of Fame president David Baker.
If it happens, Wachter — and his alter ego, “Bearman” — will be headed to the Hall of Fame as part of a display called the Ford Hall of Fans.
Wachter, 56, a Plainfield resident, has been a Bears season-ticket holder for 33 years. From 1998 to 2004, he ran onto the field with the team, outfit and all, waving a giant flag.
The “Bearman” outfit made its debut in November 1996. He wears a bearskin rug that he bought from a taxidermist in Palatine.
“I got a good price for it,” he said.
He was too embarrassed to tell the shopkeeper what he had planned. He cut off the head, which he wears on his own noggin after strapping it in with a bicycle helmet. He paints his face with a blue-and-orange zigzag pattern and is fond of wearing a Doug Plank No. 46 jersey over his fuzzy bear arms.
The Bears suggested Wachter and two other superfans to the Hall of Fame. Urlacher, the Bears’ newest Hall of Famer, surprised Wachter at his house around Thanksgiving to tell him he was the team’s selection.
“I opened the door, and there’s Brian Urlacher in all his glory with the gold jacket on,” he said. “It was awesome.”
He had Urlacher sign an autograph for him with a one-word message: “Grrrrr.”
After more than 170,000 fans voted online, the Hall announced its three finalists Tuesday: Wachter, Steelers fan Rick Holman and Dolphins fan Roger Avila.
The attention isn’t new to Wachter, who has appeared in a Miller Lite commercial and was once honored by Visa for his Bears devotion. He and fellow fans from around the league have a float in the Hall of Fame parade and gather in Canton, Ohio, every year for a reunion.
But getting the knock Friday would be special, Wachter said.
“They have a saying,” he said. “Without the fans, there is no fame.”