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Super Fans

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JAMES JONES
AP

Tom Henschel provides some keen observations about how Super Bowl fashion has evolved over the last half-century:

Back in the old days, everyone got dressed up to go to the games. Today, you are wearing jeans and a sweatshirt or whatever. Back in the old days, I'd say 65% of all fans would go to the games in suit and tie, the whole nine yards. Even the coaches were in suit, tie and a hat. That took place all in the '50s and '60s. After that, everyone started wearing anything. Later in the '70s, they started wearing the football jerseys to support their team.

Henschel, a retired airline employee, is no football fashionista, but he talks about Super Bowl spectator garb with a unique authority. He's one of three men who have attended every Super Bowl. Henschel and two others -- Don Crisman, Bob Cook and Larry Jacobson -- secured tickets to the game last Sunday in Dallas and kept the streak alive to make it 45. Bob Cook had made it to the first 44 Super Bowl games and had purchased a ticket for the game in Dallas, but he was forced to back out three days before the game due to illness. Two of his daughters attended the game instead.

Henschel, Crisman, Cook and Jacobson are part of a Q&A feature on travelchannel.com that reflects on 44 years of Super Bowl adventures by the super fans. Henschel, 69, is the youngest; Cook, 79, is the oldest. Through the years, the quartet has endured an ample number of travel adventures and gained a fair amount of fan knowledge. Here Crisman, from Maine, tells of his most tedious effort to reach Miami for Super Bowl II.

There was a major ice storm in the Southeast. In those days, there wasn't much air service from Maine, so I drove to Boston. I flew from Boston to Atlanta to do some sales promotions with customers in the Southeast. One of those folks had a private twin-engine plane. Our intention was to fly around and do our 6 promotions and then he (who lived in Florida) would drop me off in Miami on Friday afternoon. We did the first promotion in Atlanta on Tuesday, and flying to Columbia, SC, the plane iced up seriously. He handed me a book and said, "Find me a place to put this thing." We ended up landing on an abandoned air force base in Spartanburg, SC. We had to climb the fence to get out. Fortunately the police came along as we were trying to get out. They drove us to a restaurant to get a rent-a-car. We bought a case of spray de-icer to get the ice off the plane, but every time we tried, we'd get about half way through and the ice storm would start up again. Finally on Saturday morning, I hopped on a train in Columbia and arrived by train in Miami 3 or 4 hours before the game.

Jacobson, 71, has expanded his fanaticism to other major sports events. A 49ers season ticket holder for 58 years, Jacobson has been to the last 11 Summer Olympic Games and has sat through 46 Rose Bowl games. He offers a simple wisdom that could enhance a spectator's enjoyment of the game.

I don't drink. I did drink some during the earlier days, but not anymore. I developed this thing where I'd fall asleep after I drank. You don't want to fall asleep in the stadium -- not at what I paid.


If the game becomes a snoozer, and you're leaning toward a nap as you watch the game in the cozy comforts of your temperate home, think of the four super fans whose commitment to the Super Bowl has endured an array of logistical challenges and environmental conditions. Then raise a toast in their honor and offer words of encouragement that may help them reach their stated goal of bearing live witness to 50 Super Bowl games.

That's a streak even Cal Ripken can admire.

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