PHOENIX — Beverley Crisman knows her husband wouldn’t be happy if he were back home right now, with the snow piling up outside their house in Kennebunk.

“I think he would be having some bad language,” she said.

Then it’s a good thing Don Crisman is in Arizona.

The 78-year-old Crisman is where he always is this time of year – at the Super Bowl.

In fact, he’s among a select group of fans – three, to be exact – who have attended every Super Bowl, dating back to the first one in Los Angeles in January 1967.

On Sunday night, Crisman will be joined once again by Larry Jacobson of San Francisco and Tom Henschel of Pittsburgh – the two other members of the Never-Missed-A-Super-Bowl Club (yes, that’s what they call themselves) – at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, for Super Bowl XLIX.


Crisman has a lifetime of memories that go far beyond the playing field.

“Really the game is not the thing,” he said. “Half of this adventure is about the people that I’ve met and the people that I come to see and get together with.”

Beverley Crisman did not make the trip to Arizona, but she’s seen her share of Super Bowls with her husband. Twenty-seven of them. She stopped going “when tickets got up past $200.”

But Beverley does not begrudge Don’s hobby.

“He deserves it,” she said. “He has worked hard all his life. The other guys, too.”

Don Crisman and his pals have become minor celebrities. In 2010, the four members of the Never-Missed-A-Super-Bowl Club (Robert Cook of Wisconsin has since died) were featured in television ads for Visa. At the next Super Bowl, people asked for autographs or to have photos taken with them.


“Two of my sons and one of my daughters attended and they said I was like a rock star,” Don Crisman said. “I don’t think that’s true.”

On Sunday, Crisman, Jacobson and Henschel will be featured in NBC’s pregame show. The network brought them all to Los Angeles and had them sit in their original seats at the L.A. Coliseum for a taped segment.

The experience was nice, Crisman said, but also bittersweet.

“I was thinking of the people who passed on that I attended it with,” he said.


In 1967, Don Crisman lived in Denver, where he became good friends with a football fan named Stan Whitaker. Whitaker convinced Crisman that they, along with their wives, should drive to Los Angeles to see the first Super Bowl.


Thus began the streak.

The first game wasn’t a sellout. The most expensive ticket was $12. By comparison, face-value tickets for Sunday’s game range from $800 to $1,900.

The next year, Crisman moved to Maine, where he got a job with Gabriel Electronics and would eventually become vice president of sales and marketing. But the Crisman and Whitaker families continued to make the annual trip to the Super Bowl.

Don Crisman and Stan Whitaker attended 42 Super Bowls together. Whitaker is now deceased.

Along the way, Crisman made new friends at the Super Bowl and secured cherished memories.

He saw Joe Namath live up to his brash guarantee that the New York Jets would upset the Baltimore Colts in 1969. He met Joe DiMaggio at a Super Bowl party in 1981. And in 1996, he met his favorite singer, Diana Ross, at a news conference.


“One of the greatest halftime shows ever,” he said. “She signed a Super Bowl halftime hat. It had a hot dog on it. That was the sponsor.”

As the Super Bowl surged in popularity, getting tickets wasn’t always easy.

For many years, Crisman had media credentials. It started when the York County Coast Star, a weekly newspaper based in Kennebunk, wanted him to chronicle his trip. So he presented a letter from the paper to the NFL’s media director and was immediately given a press pass, a briefcase, meal tickets and a ticket to the Commissioner’s Ball.

“They said, ‘York County, that’s football country,’ ” said Crisman. “They thought it was Pennsylvania. They said they wanted all the coverage they could get. I told them I’d do the best I could. I never told them it was York County, Maine.”

The streak almost ended a few times. Crisman, a New England Patriots fan, considered curtailing the trips after the 30th Super Bowl in 1996. But the Patriots made it the next year – losing to Green Bay, 35-21, and his appetite was whetted again. He told his wife that he would shoot for 35.

But then Crisman and his pals had trouble securing tickets for the 32nd Super Bowl. When a story was written about them, the NFL stepped in. The league now allocates two tickets for each member of the Never-Missed-A-Super-Bowl Club at face value.



The thing that many people don’t realize, said Crisman, is that the surviving members of the club didn’t know one another in 1967.

Crisman met Tom Henschel by chance many years later. The Whitakers and Crismans were attending the 17th Super Bowl in Pasadena, California. On the Thursday before, they decided to drive to Burbank to watch the taping of “The Tonight Show” starring Johnny Carson. Whitaker would customize his car for the Super Bowl.

“He put a bumper sticker of the AFL or AFC team on it,” said Crisman. “And then be had these letters that said ‘Never miss a Super Bowl club’ on the back bumper. Well, Tom was walking through the parking lot, sees that and he goes up and down the line saying, ‘Who owns that car, who owns that car?’ And that’s how we met him … at Super Bowl 17 at the Carson show.”

Larry Jacobson, meanwhile, was another story. In the program for the Super Bowl in 1999 was a story about the fans who had attended every Super Bowl. Jacobson saw Crisman’s name, tracked him down in Kennebunk and they agreed to meet the following year for the 34th Super Bowl in Atlanta.

“So we met at the Buckhead Diner,” said Crisman. “That was the place to go. Ironically (Kansas City Chiefs owner) Lamar Hunt was at the next table with his wife and they came over and sat with us.”


And the three men have been together ever since.

Theirs is not a cheap hobby. Crisman was reluctant to talk about how much Super Bowl trips have cost him over the years, but Jacobson said “the last time I looked,” a trip costs between $2,000 and $3,000.

(Jacobson said it cost him about $100 – “give or take $5” – to attend the first Super Bowl, with a date.)

The men do their best to keep costs to a minimum. They book hotels and flights a year in advance. “And we get some awesome deals,” said Crisman.

They usually have one nice meal during Super Bowl week, but otherwise find inexpensive restaurants.

Beverley Crisman said she’s fine with her husband’s Super Bowl trips.


“We live frugally and we save so we can do things like this,” she said.


The Never-Missed-A-Super-Bowl Club is closing in on a milestone.

Sunday’s game between the Patriots and Seattle Seahawks will be the 49th Super Bowl.

Crisman has said several times that he will stop at 50, which will be played next year in San Francisco.

Jacobson doesn’t agree.


“I don’t think he (will stop),” said the 75-year-old Jacobson, who has also attended 50 consecutive Rose Bowls. “Because I’m going to call him up in February of 2016 and I’m going to say, ‘Hey, you want to go to Houston (site of the 51st Super Bowl)? Tom says he wants 50, too, but I think he’ll go on.”

Crisman isn’t sure. He’ll only say, “It’s all up to the Big Man Upstairs.”

But if 50 is going to be his last, Beverley said she and their four children and three grandchildren need to be there with Don.

“We want the whole family to be there,” she said.

But first, there is Sunday’s game. As much as Don Crisman enjoys Super Bowl week, he’s a bit anxious this year.

“The Patriots being in it just makes it more stressful,” said Crisman. “And I don’t need stress in my life at my age. I’m happy they’re here, don’t get me wrong. But it adds more stress.”

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