‘I have to go’: Fans who’ve been to every Super Bowl book in

Don Crisman poses at his home, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Kennebunk, Maine. Crisman is one of three fans who have attended every Super Bowl. This year the trio will have to work coronavirus-era precautions into the trip. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

By PATRICK WHITTLE
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — The Super Bowl is going to look different this year for three friends who’ve attended every installment of the big game.

But Don Crisman, Tom Henschel and Gregory Eaton have tickets in hand and say they will be there, as they have every year since the first AFL-NFL World Championship Game in 1967. The trio, who range in age from 79 to 84, are among an ever-shrinking group of fans who have witnessed every Super Bowl in person.

They normally use the event as a chance to catch up with each other, but this time they’re working coronavirus-era precautions into the trip. They’ll settle for an outdoor lunch while seated several feet apart to meet up this year.

In the stands, they’ll be seated several rows apart.

Don Crisman holds tickets from the first three Super Bowls, Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2021, in Kennebunk, Maine. Crisman is one of three fans who have attended every Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

“Of course I’m concerned. Who wouldn’t be? My doctor’s concerned. He said don’t go,” said Crisman, 84, of Kennebunk, Maine.

Crisman, who is flying from Boston to the game site of Tampa, Florida, hasn’t been on a plane since his return trip from last year’s Super Bowl. He’s bringing his daughter, a medical technician who has been working COVID-19 vaccination clinics, to the game this year.

Crisman said he was ready to give up the streak, but Henschel’s commitment to keeping it alive convinced him to make it.

“I have to go. I can’t break my string. I have to be there,” said the 79-year-old Pittsburgh area resident who winters in Tampa, making for an easy commute. “I’m slowing down, but I still love the game.”

Crisman and Henschel first met at the 1983 Super Bowl, when they learned they had both been to every game to that point. Eaton, a Lansing resident who also spends his winters in Florida, met them years later in the mid-2010s. A few other members of their exclusive club of fans who never missed a Super Bowl have died in recent years.

Eaton, who is Black, said he has had to navigate challenges before to get to the game. He said he was turned away from a hotel because of his race when trying to find lodging for one of the first Super Bowls.

These days, one of his favorite aspects of the game is catching up with Henschel and Crisman.

“I look forward to it every year — and the relationships we’ve had these past five years are unbelievable,” said Eaton, 81, who winters in the Palm Beach area. “We’re like a brotherhood.”

The defending champion Kansas City Chiefs face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the 2021 Super Bowl on Feb. 7 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Attendance has been capped at 22,000, which includes 7,500 health care workers. The stadium will be about a third full.

Crisman is a New England Patriots fan who remains loyal to Tom Brady, the Buccaneers quarterback and former Patriot playing in his 10th Super Bowl.

Mostly, though, Crisman wants to keep his Super Bowl streak going and come back to Maine without contracting the virus. He said he has had one of the two doses of the coronavirus vaccine. Eaton said he has also had the first shot, while Henschel said he has not.

Crisman said he knows his streak has to end eventually, and he was initially prepared for this to be the year it did. But then he found himself game planning.

“Everything’s got to end eventually. I can’t explain it — it just happens,” he said.

Contests & Events

WIN BRAVES TICKETS!

Keep listening to 680 The Fan throughout the Braves season for your chance to win a pair of tickets to see a game at Truist Park! Multiple chances to win EVERY DAY!

FEEL THE LOVE & WIN $68!

Nominate someone who inspires you through acts of kindness or charity to receive a $68 VISA gift card courtesy of Gwinnett Subaru and Georgia’s Own Credit Union! DETAILS HERE!

Win Truist Park

WIN TRUIST PARK! Join the 680 Fan Club and you could win a Truist Park REPLICA for your desk! Enter HERE Today!

Ga Lottery Jackpot Inning 2020

Register now to be a contestant in the GA Lottery Jackpot Inning! If your name is called and one of our Braves hits a homer, you’ll win the day’s Jackpot! No winner? The jackpot rolls over the next day for an even BIGGER PRIZE! Enter to win with The Braves HERE!

No events are currently scheduled.