A die-hard Green Bay fan could soon find out whether he can force the Bears to allow him to wear his Packers gear on the Bears' sideline on Sunday.
He's a longtime Bears season ticket owner who has earned enough points to buy the rights to walk the Bears sideline before games.
And now, it's up to a judge to decide whether the Bears can stop him from wearing his green and gold.
“You know something? I love the rivalry, and I think what the Bears are doing is diminishing this rivalry,” said Russell Beckman.
Beckman is a schoolteacher from Green Bay. On Wednesday, he was in a Dirksen Building courtroom fighting for the chance to wear his Packers Jersey this Sunday during a special pre-game gathering of fans on the sidelines at Soldier Field. The Bears said if he wears the jersey, he won't be allowed to participate.
“George McCaskey does not need to protect Bear fans from the likes of me!” said Beckman.
Beckman wore his Packers jersey on the Soldier Field sidelines until 2016 when the Bears said no more. When the Bears banned him, he sued. The lawsuit is pending, but Wednesday he sought a court order allowing him to wear the jersey on the sidelines before Sunday's game.
“This is not a fight with Bears fans, I think Bears fans look at this as a circus,” Beckman said.
Beckman argued that since the Bears play in Soldier Field, it's a government entity which is in fact violating his first amendment rights.
Attorneys for the Bears told Judge Joan Gottschall that even though Soldier Field is owned by the Park District, the Bears are a private entity which is merely setting a dress code. They also said Bears fans have expressed their displeasure with Beckman.
Bears attorneys declined comment. Mike Lieber represents Beckman.
“We're not only fighting for Mister Beckman's First Amendment rights, but anybody who walks into Soldier Field, whether they're a Chicago Bears fan, a Packer's fan, or a fan of any other team,” Lieber said.