Three 'Super Fans' Land Final Nominations for Prestigious Place in Ford Hall of Fans at Pro Football HOF
After years of face painting and tailgating, the “12th Man” is getting his due.
The Ford Hall of Fans at the Pro Football Hall of Fame will welcome its first-ever fan honoree when one of three finalist “super fans” – Chicago Bears fan Don Wachter, Pittsburgh Steelers fan Rick Holman, or Miami Dolphins fan Roger Avila – is selected to join the hallowed halls in Canton, Ohio.
Pro Football Hall of Fame President & CEO David Baker, following in the tradition of alerting former player, coach and owner inductees, will notify Wachter, Holman or Avila by giving a celebratory knock on the winning fan’s hotel room door. All three will be staying at the same Atlanta hotel as former players – and Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2019 finalists – Ed Reed, Tony Gonzalez and Champ Bailey, who will also be awaiting a knock on their door from Baker letting them know they are going to Canton.
“The spirit of the game lives in the hearts of fans everywhere who support their teams so passionately,” Baker said. “We are pleased that Ford shares our desire to honor and pay tribute to these great fans.”
Voters cast more than 170,000 ballots in online polling to help make Wachter, Holman and Avila the three finalists, following a search that began months ago in pro football markets across the country.
Wachter, 56, of Plainfield, Illinois, is a Bears season-ticket holder of 33 years. Known among Chicago football fans simply as “Bearman,” he paints his face and wears a bear’s head hat to games. From 1998 to 2004, Wachter fired up the home crowd by running onto Soldier Field carrying a large Bears flag before every game.
Holman, 39, of Beaver, Pennsylvania, is a high school history teacher, and an 18-year Steelers season-ticket holder. He has attended every game ever played at Heinz Field, including preseason, regular season and playoff games for 18 straight years. He traveled to attend the Steelers’ recent championship appearances in Detroit, Tampa and Dallas.
Avila, 56, of Miami, is a 24-year season-ticket holder known simply as “Dolfan Maniac.” As one of the faces of the organization, he appears frequently on TV during Dolphin broadcasts wearing his signature No. 40 Miami jersey in old-school white.
Other fans vying for a spot in the Ford Hall of Fans at the Pro Football Hall of Fame were Denver Broncos fan Merry Brannon of Aurora, Colorado; Detroit Lions fan Michael Banks of Southfield, Michigan; and Dallas Cowboys fan Stoney Kersch of Arlington, Texas.
THE FORD HALL OF FANS
Jim Peters, Ford brand content and alliances marketing manager, said the Ford Hall of Fans is a way for the automaker to celebrate the necessary passion fans bring to the various worlds of sports across the country. Last year, Ford debuted a Ford Hall of Fans for racing enthusiasts, and celebrated by inducting NASCAR fans Darin Kent and Chester Maszczenski. The search for a new NASCAR inductee begins next month.
Along with pro football fans, this year the honor also extends to Professional Bull Riders fans.
“We really wanted to do something different to celebrate the unique contributions that fans bring to sports and also highlight the tradition and prestige associated with the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Peters said. “It’s a great opportunity for Ford Motor Company to share these great stories that demonstrate how fans are so dedicated to their teams.”
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