KENNEBUNK, ME - They are members of one of the most exclusive clubs in the jock kingdom and yet you probably would not recognize one name. They are only four strong and yet collectively they span from the Pacific to the Atlantic.
Larry Jacobson of San Francisco, California; Don Crisman of Kennebunk, Maine; Bob Cook of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Thomas Henschel of Tampa, Florida have attended every Super Bowl game ever played, which explains their membership in the "Never Miss a Super Bowl Club."
Their individual journeys have brought them together in the most unlikely of ways. In 1964 Crisman decided to relocate from Rhode Island to Denver, Colorado and in the process of buying a new house he was introduced to Stan Whitaker. Whitaker at the time was working as an insurance representative at the bank that Crisman was using to finance his new house loan. The two became good friends and soon began to attend football games at Air Force and later Denver Broncos games and eventually the Super Bowl. Whitaker himself was a member of the "Never Miss a Super Bowl Club" for 42 years but following Super Bowl 42 because of health reasons he was forced to slow his travel.
Crisman said that his buddy Whitaker always chose to drive instead of fly to any Super Bowl game that he attended. He says that his friend was so proud of the fact that he had never missed a Super Bowl game that he proudly displayed a very large homemade bumper sticker on his car, stating the obvious. After driving to Pasadena, California together for Super Bowl 14, the two decided to pass a little time before game day by attending the Johnny Carson Show.
While standing outside in line awaiting entrance to the show they heard the voice of a man asking the crowd, "Does anyone know the owner of the car with the homemade bumper sticker?" After acknowledging ownership of the car, Crisman said he and Whitaker soon found themselves in the presence of yet another person, Henschel, with the same claim to fame as theirs, he too had attended every Super Bowl game.
The group learned of Jacobson through several Super Bowl publications, contacted him and planned a meeting at a diner near Atlanta at Super Bowl 34, the group now had grown to three known members.
And finally, while attending Super Bowl 36, Crisman said he and Whitaker were approached by the PR Director for the Green Bay Packers and told of yet another individual in Wisconsin who also had attended every Super Bowl. The group would meet Cook the following year at Super Bowl 37.
When asked about his favorite Super Bowl game of all time, Crisman says, that Super Bowls 36 & 38 were very special for him because his favorite team, the New England Patriots, won on both occasions.
However, he says that in his opinion, Super Bowls 3 & 4 probably transcended the game of professional football more so than any other because the Jets defeated the Colts and the Chiefs beat the Vikings, and now the AFC Conference finally gained some credibility and at last was taken seriously.
When asked about any special moments along his journey, Crisman spoke of several close calls that he had, so close that his steak of attending every Super Bowl game nearly ended before really getting started.
His first true moment of concern presented itself as early as Super Bowl 2 which was played in Miami, Florida. He says while on a business trip he found himself grounded in South Carolina due to an ice storm. After several days and continued failed attempts to fly to his destination, he finally decided to board a train for Miami. "I cut it pretty close, I think I only arrived several hours before kickoff," he says.
And yet on one other occasion he recalled things getting a little crazy before the big game. On the morning of Super Bowl 32 he found himself without a game ticket, so in a desperate attempt to keep his streak alive he says he printed a hand written note on a card saying that he needed one ticket to the game in order not to end his perfect Super Bowl appearance streak. As luck would have it a group of doctors approached him and said that they had one extra. He says that he was able to purchase the ticket at face value and make his way to the game on time.
As Super Bowl 45 approaches, Crisman and his buddies are making plans for their reunion in North Texas, and to a man, each looking forward to extending their streak.