When Don Wachter opened his front door a few days ago Bobby Massie Jersey
, he was met by Bears Hall Of Fame linebacker Brian Urlacher, who was dressed in his HOF gold jacket. Urlacher had flown in from his home in Phoenix to announce to “Bearman” that he was one of six finalists for the Ford “Hall of Fans”, which is a new exhibit in the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.“I was dumbfounded,” Wachter said in an exclusive Windy City Gridiron interview. What Bears fan wouldn’t be? The greeting was filmed by a crew hired by Ford. Wachter had been hosting the the crew for the day, with the understanding that he was being considered as a finalist.Urlacher knocking on his front door, however, came as a complete surprise.“It was past 12:00 (noon) and there was this loud knocking on the door,” Wachter said, ”which I thought was strange, there were a lot of guys coming and going and I have a door bell, and the door was unlocked but I thought maybe a crew guy had locked himself out or something. The director goes ‘why don’t you go answer that’ and I was closest to the door, so I got up and answer it and was like ‘oh my God there’s Brian Urlacher standing there.’”“I just couldn’t conceive why he was there,” he continued with a laugh, “I know we were doing this interview and all it took me a bit to put two-and-two together, you know...”Urlacher told Wachter that he had been nominated as a finalist for the Ford Hall Of Fans, “He congratulated me,” Wachter said, pointing out that Urlacher was extremely nice and gracious throughout the entire day, even when the cameras were not rolling. It’s likely that every Chicago Bears fan knows Don Wachter’s face. The Plainfield, Illinois resident’s face and image has been all over television, print and online media since the 1990’s. Chicago Bears fan Don ‘Bearman’ Wachter looks on during the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Soldier Field on September 30, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears won 48-10.Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesWachter has been a season ticket holder since 1985, and hasn’t missed a home game in 33 years. His trademark face paint has been around since he first started becoming an “ultimate fan” back in his college days in the 1990’s. The bear’s head was a later edition.During his many years of being the Bears’ most well-known fan, he’s had many highlights and some lowlights as well, but nothing to compare to having Brian Urlacher fly out from Arizona to spend the day with him. In the video filmed that day on the way to Wachter’s house and at the house, Urlacher states “Fans are the life blood of our sport; without them, pro football wouldn’t exist.”“That’s why Ford is creating the Hall Of Fans,” he continued in a segment filmed before he reached Wachter’s residence, “to recognize the unsung heroes who help make our game great. I’m in Chicago to surprise Don Wachter, and nominate him for induction into the inaugural class of the Ford Hall Of Fame.”“Don has no idea I’m coming to see him,” Urlacher explains, “this is going to be really exciting!”The video shows the outside of the house, with Urlacher firmly knocking on the door as Wachter is doing part of his interview in full Bearman regalia. Wachter opened the door and found the most recent Chicago Bears Hall Of Famer standing there waiting.Wachter led Urlacher through a tour of his home, up to the Bearman’s man cave and memorabilia rooms. On their way up the stairs https://www.thebearsfanshop.com/Adrian-Amos-Jersey
, Wachter pointed out an autographed picture of Bearman and Urlacher together, taken during Urlacher’s rookie year. “Look how young I was,” Urlacher is heard saying in the video.Hall Of Famer Brian Urlacher and Bearman Don Wachter in Wachter’s Man CaveUpstairs, Urlacher signed a jersey that was provided by Ford, and Wachter states Urlacher spent considerable time looking through the memorabilia room and commenting on a lot of Bears historical items that Wachter has collected over the years. The Bearman persona has developed over time, from his early college days back in 1985 through many changes.The biggest change was when he moved away from his earlier football helmet, through a phase where he wore multi-colored orange and navy wigs and on through to his Bear’s head hat. Unlike most other bear’s heads seen around Soldier Field, Wachter’s head is from an actual bear. He purchased it from a taxidermist, and it was intended to be part of a bearskin rug.Wachter cut off the rest of the fur, fashioned a hole the right size to fit his head and added/adjusted an appropriate amount of padding. He then attached a strap to the plywood base that the head is attached to. The Bear’s head made its debut in November of 1996 and has been a fixture at Bears games since.Wachter’s look and positive attitude caught the notice of the Chicago Bears organization, who invited Wachter to become one of the two people who ran giant flags around inside Soldier Field down the sidelines and in the end zone. After the Bears introduced their new mascot Staley, Wachter moved back into the stands where he has been cheering on the Bears since. Not surprisingly, his spectacular outfit, energy and positive good humor has attracted a lot of media attention over the years.He’s been featured in countless promos on all of the national television networks and online media, including here at Windy City Gridiron.Chicago Bears fan Don ‘Bear Man’ Wachter looks on during the game against the Los Angeles Rams at Soldier Field on December 9, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears won 15-6.Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty ImagesDonning the jersey of his all-time favorite Bear, Doug Plank, Wachter has become a legend among not just Bears fans, but his fellow ultimate fans as well. Wachter is a member of an association of high profile ultimate fans, the Pro Football’s Ultimate Fan Association.This also isn’t his first nomination for a “Hall Of Fans” award. Wachter was an inaugural member of the Visa Hall Of Fans, Class of 2000.One of Wachter’s favorite parts of being Bearman is interacting with fans of all teams throughout the country at the games, at pregame festivities, and any time he’s dressed as the Bearman. “I love interacting with fans,” he said, “taking pictures, you know, I get asked a lot... I love taking pictures with fans, I try not to ever say no, and I’m so honored when they say ‘wow, you made my day, this is my first Bears game.’ Or they’s say ‘I’m from Mexico I came all this way,’ or ‘I’m from London I came all this way,’ or ‘I’m from Germany, I just want to get a picture’ or ‘I’m from Spain and I want to get a picture with you.’”From six to three to oneFollowing an extensive background check Jordan Howard Color Rush Jersey
, there are six nominee that have been chosen as finalists out of the fanbases of all 32 teams.These six fans each received a visit from a Hall Of Fame player from their respective teams to inform them that they were finalists.Three of the six will be chosen to continue on to the Super Bowl in Atlanta for an all-expense paid trip to the game and to enjoy the week’s festivities leading up to the announcement of the overall winner and inaugural Hall Of Fans inductee. According to Wachter, fan voting is only one-third of the deciding factor, the nominees are also being reviewed by a team chosen by the Ford Motor Company and the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.The winner will be inducted into the Hall Of Fans exhibit during the Pro Football Hall Of Fame enshrinement week this summer at the Hall Of Fame in Canton, Ohio.Wachter’s immediate goal is to be one of the finalists and hopefully be able to root on his beloved Chicago Bears in person at the Super Bowl in Atlanta. “Wouldn't that be something!” he said. Fans can show their support for the Bearman by going to the Ford Hall Of Fans website and voting for Wachter daily. The Ford Hall Of Fans Voting Page“I’d be very grateful and appreciative of your support,” he said.So would Brian Urlacher:Ken’s Note: I’ve got to admit, holding off on telling this story was hard. Don (who’s a friend although we are not “in-real-life” bests or anything) hit me up on messenger then called me the night Brian visited, and you all can just imagine how absolutely pumped he was. I was, of course, sworn to secrecy until the contest opened, and once it did I’m happy to share his story with you.Don is one of the good guys, and as a fanbase we have until January 27 to vote for him daily to get him to Atlanta to cheer on (hopefully) our Chicago Bears.What Kind of Passer Is Mitchell Trubisky? The quarterback for the Chicago Bears has had some good games and some bad games, and he currently has a passer rating of 97.1, good for 14th in the NFL among quarterbacks with at least 53 attempts. That might seem like a strange cutoff, but it’s a number NFL Next Gen Stats determines by taking 15 attempts and multiplying it by the number of weeks of play, then dividing by 2. So, it’s basically a decent ballpark for “a quarterback who has played in at least half of the games so far,” but there will be some margin for error. Right now, 38 quarterbacks qualify. Being ranked #14 out of 38 isn’t bad, but passer rating only tells a very small part of the story.Obviously, watching the game video is a great way of assessing a player, but two problems emerge. First, there’s the dreaded confirmation bias. Simply put, I will tend to see only what I want to see, or at least only what I expect to see. Second, there’s the fact that it’s easy to lose track of what other players do in similar situations. I notice that Trubisky misses an open receiver down the sideline, but I don’t have an honest sense of how many players actually do complete a similar pass in a similar situation.My impression up until this point has been that Trubisky is doing better when Nagy sets him up as a game manager and that he’s missing some easy throws at critical moments, especially when he takes shots deep downfield. I was curious if the stats backed me up.They don’t. To be fair, the stats don’t disprove that impression, necessarily, but they also really don’t lend themselves to that sort of interpretation, either.Let’s begin with my impression of Trubisky’s success being from more “game management” plays. Next Gen doesn’t have a game manager score, exactly, but they do have one interesting number that helps get a read on the exact opposite tendency. They track what percentage of each quarterback’s throws are into tight windows, defined as throws where there is a defender within 1 yard of the receiver at the time of the completion (or incompletion). Nearly one-fifth of Trubisky’s throws are into tight windows (19%).Only six quarterbacks are more “aggressive” than that, per Next Gen Stats. Of those six Eddie Jackson Jersey
, only Ryan Fitzpatrick has a higher actual passer rating than Trubisky. Likewise, Trubisky’s attempts are past the 1st down marker a lot. Next Gen keeps track of Air Yards to Sticks, which “shows the amount of Air Yards ahead or behind the first down marker on all attempts for a passer.” Trubisky is 6th in this regard, at +0.5 (just behind fellow sophomore QBs Patrick Mahomes at +0.7 and Deshaun Watson at +0.6) which matches both the aggression shown in the previous stat and my own sense of the number of times he takes deep shots down field, even if he doesn’t actually connect on those attempts. However, two more stats are worth noting before moving on—Longest Completed Air Distance (how far the ball has traveled through the air in a pass) and Completion Percentage Above Expectation. That latter stat is a little complex, and it requires a lot of processing to even arrive at the score. Essentially, it measures how the passer’s actual completion percentage compares to what would be expected based on completion probability, or “the probability of a pass completion, based on numerous factors such as receiver separation from the nearest defender, where the receiver is on the field, the separation the passer had at time of throw from the nearest pass rusher, and more.”Trubisky’s 60.7 LCAD is the sixth-highest among qualified passers, narrowly edging out Aaron Rodgers’ 60.3 LCAD. So, he actually can connect on bombs. However, are they the exception or the rule?Strangely, despite all of my frustration with him, Trubisky’s +/- on Completion Percentage Above Expectation is +1.4%, good for 14th in the league. That number is worth repeating for clarity—compared to the average completion rating for the types of throws he is attempting, Trubisky is actually connecting on his passes slightly more often than would be expected. I don’t know enough about Next Gen’s raw data to tell you if he is more accurate to a degree that is statistically significant (my guess is he’s not), but even being functionally average in that regard is an improvement over the impression I have developed out of frustration.Taken collectively, these numbers suggest that #10 is is pushing the ball down field into aggressive windows, and he not simply succeeding when Nagy limits the playbook. Instead, he is playing aggressive football, and he is doing it at a rate that is between 6th and 14th in the NFL. That’s actually really good.Are some of these numbers padded by one really good game against Tampa Bay? Certainly. However, Trubisky has more than 200 passer attempts, and a number of his peers have also faced weak defenses, too. His passer rating has been “above” the average allowed by his opponents’ defenses on three occasions, and it has been below the average allowed on another three occasions. In short, he’s not simply a mediocre quarterback with inflated numbers from a single game. He is a growing quarterback making aggressive plays and accomplishing more than a number of fans expected from him.Perhaps most importantly, he is not only playing well when the game is simplified for him, and he is not relying on wide open receivers to make plays on his behalf. Instead, Trubisky is looking more and more like a complete passer who just needs time to refine his craft.