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Copyright 2017 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel


The Packers-Bears rivalry goes back generations and is full of dust-ups both on and off the field, but they don't usually end up in federal court.

Not until the Bears kept a Packer gear-wearing Russell Beckman off their Soldier Field turf.

Beckman of Mount Pleasant has been a Packers fan for years and is a season ticket-holder at Lambeau Field.

He is such a fan, though, that he's also a Bears season ticket holder so that he can cheer on the Pack when they play south of the border. The other games down there? He either sells the tickets or gives them to friends.

Beckman said he attended Packers' games at Soldier Field in both 2014 and 2015 and was allowed access to the field during pregame warm-ups, which is a season ticket-holder perk. He's a Packers fan - and he dresses like one.

Then, before the 2016 game, the Bears sent out an email to season ticket holders who had signed up for the on-field experience and let them know that no opposing gear would be allowed.

Beckman, a high school social studies teacher, called and emailed the Bears ticket office and he was told the same thing. But he's a Packers fan, so he wore the green and gold anyway and was turned back at the turf.

Beckman said Soldier Field, as a publicly owned facility, "should respect our liberties" as fans.

"I love football and I'm a fan of the game," Beckman said. "I have tremendous respect for Bears fans. They're tenacious, have grit and are loyal. But I warned the Bears and the NFL that if action wasn't taken, I'd do this."

Beckman ended up filing the 10-page lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Chicago, accusing the Bears of denying him his free-speech rights by blocking his access to the Bears' home turf while wearing Packers gear.

In the suit, Beckman states the Bears "deprived me of my ability to fully enjoy this specific on-field experience and the general experience of the Bears-Packers game at Soldier Field." He's seeking that "the Bears and the NFL be ordered by the court to not enforce this rule for the 2017 season and beyond."

Beckman is representing himself and said he hopes it is resolved by Nov. 12 - when the Packers next meet the Bears at Soldier Field.

The Bears could not immediately be reached for comment.

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June 21, 2017


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