INDIANAPOLIS – Don Crisman of Kennebunk came alone. Beverley, his wife, didn’t make the trip.
“Indianapolis,” he said, “wasn’t on her list of vacation resorts to visit.”
But it was on his. That’s where the Super Bowl between the New England Patriots and New York Giants will be played tonight.
And Crisman, of course, never misses the Super Bowl. He is one of the three members of the Never-Missed-A-Super-Bowl club, three men who have somehow managed to see every championship game played since 1967.
The others are Larry Jacobson of San Francisco and Tom Henschel of Natrone Heights, Pa. Last year, the club lost a member when Bob Cook of Wisconsin died four days after the Super Bowl. His wife will attend the game this year in his memory.
For the three men, the game is more than, well, just a game.
“We enjoy one another’s company,” said Crisman. “Larry and I are very close. When the Patriots played in San Francisco, I stayed at his place. And the 49ers are coming (to Foxborough, Mass.) next year, so he’ll come up to Maine for a few days. We just enjoy each other’s company.”
Crisman, 75, was a popular figure in the media center this week, and he never turned anyone down, proudly recounting his experiences over the years.
Having the Patriots in the Super Bowl makes Crisman nervous. He can’t completely enjoy the week because he’s afraid his favorite team will lose. Even this week, he said, “I have a bad feeling in my gut.”
His favorite experiences have been in 1969, when the New York Jets beat the Baltimore Colts — the first AFL win over an NFL club — and in 2002, when the Patriots upset the St. Louis Rams for their first title.
The win over the Rams is self-explanatory. But the Jets over the Colts? Crisman, who was hanging around Radio Row this week with his friend, Rich Gibson of Homestead, Fla., (who has gone to 30 consecutive Super Bowls), considers himself an AFL guy and that was the moment, he said, “the Super Bowl became the Super Bowl.”
He remembers flying home after the game with a contingent of Patriots on board.
“We were partying the whole time, dancing in the aisle,” he said. “It’s a wonder I was able to drive back home to Maine that night.”
He came close to ending his Super Bowl streak before the 1996 game but at the last minute decided to go. Now he hopes to make it to 50. Then he’s willing to stop. It is, after all, an expensive habit, even if the NFL gets him tickets at face value.
“But if the Patriots get into 51, I’m going to have to go to that too,” he said.
And maybe get Beverley to go again. Over the years she attended about half the games. For her, the thrill is the social week leading up to the game.
“She just loved to sit around here,” said Crisman, waving his arm around the media lounge. “One day, Muhammad Ali sat next to her. Even (Patriots quarterback Tom) Brady sat next to her one day in the lobby of the team hotel.”
Now people try to sit next to Crisman.
JOSH BARAJAS, an assistant football coach at Edward Little High in Auburn, is also attending the Super Bowl, his first.
Barajas’ cousin, Brian Flores, is an assistant defensive coach for the Patriots and offered him a ticket after the AFC championship game.
“I accepted immediately,” said Barajas, who is staying at the team hotel. “This means a lot to me. I can remember when I was 7 or 8 years old, watching the Super Bowl and telling my family that I was going to go to a Super Bowl.
“This is like a dream come true for me. The fact that I am sharing it with family makes it even sweeter.”
Barajas isn’t the only Auburn school member at the game.
Edward Little Principal Jim Miller was one of the 10 New Englanders chosen by the Patriots to receive transportation, accommodations and tickets as part of their Super Bowl for Super People program.
The team selected the 10 for their community service and involvement.
WE KNOW Madonna is the halftime entertainment, but there will be plenty of big-name talent on hand for the big game.
Lenny Kravitz and The Fray will perform for the NFL’s tailgate party.
Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert will sing “America the Beautiful” before the game, and Kelly Clarkson will sing the national anthem.
NBC is planning six hours of pregame coverage. Among the hundreds of clips, you’ll be sure to see David Tyree’s miraculous helmet catch that set up the Giants’ winning touchdown in the 17-14 upset of the Patriots in 2008.
Why? Well, Bob Costas is going to interview both Tyree and former Patriot safety/current NBC analyst Rodney Harrison live, together. Harrison is the one who tried to break Tyree in half on the play.
Staff Writer Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or at: