Plainfield Man In Finals For NFL Ford Hall Of Fans

Lisa Fielding
January 29, 2019 - 12:48 pm
Don 'Bearman' Catcher

Facebook/Don Catcher

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CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- He's the most recognizable Bears fan in the NFL. Now, he's a finalist to be inducted in the NFL Hall of Fans.

Don Wachter, also known as "Bear Man," was nominated in December and competed against with fans from Pittsburgh, Miami, Detroit, Dallas and Denver. 

Fans voted, and this week Wachter was notified to be one of three finalists who will be flown to Atlanta this weekend for the Superbowl.

"The top vote-getter will be surprised during the Superbowl as the Ford Hall of Fan inductee and flown into Canton, Ohio in August during Hall of Fame weekend. I love Ford and the Pro Football Hall of Fame for recognizing the fans who bring so much to the game of football," Wachter said.

Fan voting was one-third of the total. A panel from Ford and a panel from the Pro Football Hall of Fame will contribute to the final vote.

"I could potentially be the first Chicago Bears fan to be inducted into the Hall of Fans. I'm very, very honored. I could use all the help I could get to represent Chicago at Superbowl 53."

Watcher is competing against a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and a Miami Dolphins fan. 

RELATED: Plainfield Man Nominated For NFL Ford Hall Of Fans

Wachter's love for football and the Bears started young.

"I started loving football when I was 8-years old," recalls Wachter who grew up on a 200-acre farm in St. John, Indiana.

"The passion for football for me came in 1975 when they drafted Walter Payton. When people ask me, you're from Indiana, why are rooting for the Bears. Our whole radio and TV market was Chicago so I rooted for Chicago teams."

Watcher attended Purdue University studying Urban Forestry when he went to his first Bears game.

"I wanted to see Walter Payton break Jim Brown's record. I was present there when he broke the record."

He's been a season ticket holder ever since.

Don 'Bearman' Wachter
Facebook/Don Wachter

"1985 was my first year as a season ticket holder. It was just a magical season. I was blessed and lucky to get in at the right time. I haven't missed a home game since 1995."

Wachter said as a fan, he always tried to do something special on game days. Early on, he carried an air horn and a Bears flag. Then he decided to up the ante.

"I started painting my face in college. In the early 90's I wore a regulation Bears helmet with the orange and blue face. From the helmet, I went to colored punk wigs. Then I wanted to take it up a step further," he said.

That's when "Bearman" was born.

"I wanted to find a Bear costume, but they were more like masks and too cutesy so I went to a taxidermist in Palatine. I wanted to wear an actual Bear head on my head. I was too embarrassed to tell him what I actually wanted to do with it," he laughed. "I didn't know this was going to work at all, I just took a chance. I debuted the Bear head on a November game in the '96 season and I haven't stopped since."

Facebook/Don Wachter

Watcher also had the honor with the giant Bears flag on the field at Soldier Field from 1998-2004. Staley then took over as the Bears official mascot and Watcher returned to the stands in 2005. 

After 20 years, and several appearances on national television, "Bearman" took on a life of its own.

In November, Watcher was contacted about being a contender for the first ever Ford Hall of Fans nominees. In early December, a film crew came to his home and interviewed him.

"During the interview in my living room, I got this loud knock on my door. When I answered the door, I almost fainted. It was Brian Urlacher. I couldn't conceive why he was there at first. Then he told me I was officially a nominee," he said. "I showed him my Fan Cave and all my Bears memorabilia."

You can see Don Wachter's profile and video on the Ford Hall of Fans website, as well as the other finalists.