Chicago Bears Halt Pregame Perk, Ending Packers Fan's Lawsuit

A lifelong Green Bay Packers fan accused the Bears of violating free-speech rights by prohibiting fans from wearing Packers gear at warmups

The Chicago Bears have ended a pregame perk that prompted a federal lawsuit by a lifelong Green Bay Packers fan who wanted to wear the Wisconsin team's green and gold apparel to warmups at Soldier Field. 

Bears attorney Paul Greenwalt told The Chicago Tribune that the team is eliminating the program that allows season ticket holders to attend pregame warmups in a marketing reorganization. He said that means Russell Beckman's lawsuit, which accuses the Bears of violating free-speech rights by prohibiting fans from wearing Packers gear at the warmups, is no longer applicable. 

A judge has given the team until mid-February to file for dismissal. The Bears sought to have the case dismissed last year, but the motion was denied. 

Beckman filed the lawsuit in 2017. He lives in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, about — an hour drive north of Chicago — and holds Bears season tickets, the lawsuit said.

Beckman said he was able to attend the pregame warmups in 2014 and 2015, often wearing a Packers' jersey and hat, green and yellow beads and with his beard dyed green. 

The Bears sent Beckman an email before a Bears-Packers game warning in capital letters, "NO OPPOSING TEAM GEAR WILL BE ALLOWED," according to the lawsuit. He went in Packers apparel anyway and was turned away. 

Beckman sent an email to Bears executives urging them to "stop coddling" the team by creating "segregated safe spaces for Bears fans," according to court records. 

Beckman sought to have a temporary restraining order and injunction so he could wear Packers' attire at the pregame events while the lawsuit is being decided, but a judge denied the request.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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