Don Crisman still has his ticket, program and straw hat from the first Super Bowl in 1967.

It was called “The First AFL-NFL World Championship Game” then.

As he attended the first few Super Bowls, he said trying to go to the first 10 would “be wonderful.” He decided to try for 20 when he accomplished that.

Crisman, along with two of the closest friends he’s developed over the years, exceeded his own expectations.

Crisman, 87, Greg Eaton, 84, and Tom Henschel, 82, have never missed a Super Bowl and will be in the Allegiant Stadium stands Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers meet in Super Bowl 58. They are the final three living members of the “Never Miss a Super Bowl” club.

“When you love the game,” Henschel said Friday, “you got to go. … I was in the right place at the right time all of my life.”

Added Eaton: “That’s the thrill. I still get the chills when ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ plays, and I put my hand on my heart. It’s something you have to experience. That never changes. That’s what I love about it, the thrill of it.”

The octogenarians said they’ve been treated well since coming to Las Vegas.

“I can have the Super Bowl out here every year,” Henschel said.

Eaton said he remembers staying at the Moulin Rouge and watching major boxing matches. Crisman said he hadn’t been to Las Vegas in 25 years and only recognized a few buildings from his last visit.

None of them expected to come to Las Vegas for a Super Bowl.

“It wasn’t something I thought would happen, but here we are,” Crisman said. “I didn’t think there would be a hockey team, a Major League Baseball team coming. Or (the NFL). I didn’t envision them here, either. I thought with all the betting, it would keep them separated.”

Crisman, a New England Patriots fan who is from Maine, almost missed Super Bowl 32. He didn’t have a ticket the day of the game and was planning to buy one from a scalper at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego to watch the Green Bay Packers and Denver Broncos.

He found a lifeline at his hotel.

“I met these three doctors on the elevator,” Crisman said. “They said one fellow no-showed and said, ‘If you want to come with us, come.’ They didn’t believe my story, so they made me stay with them all game because they didn’t want to see the ticket scalped.”

Henschel’s streak almost ended early. He was in New Orleans for Super Bowl 6 and got sick a couple of days before the game. He was given an IV and placed on oxygen. But even doctors’ orders couldn’t keep him from missing the game.

“They told me I had to stay (in the hospital) for 24 hours,” said Henschel, who is originally from Pennsylvania — he’s a Pittsburgh Steelers fan — but now lives in Florida. “But I ran out the back door. I went back to the hotel and went to the game.”

Eaton, a Detroit Lions fan from Michigan, said he’s been lucky not to have any close calls. He said one of his most memorable games was Super Bowl 41 in Miami Gardens, Florida. It was the first Super Bowl to feature two Black head coaches in Tony Dungy (Indianapolis Colts) and Lovie Smith (Chicago Bears).

“To me, it was like talking football, sports, boxing with Joe Lewis, track with Jesse Owens,” Eaton said. “For us, it put us (as African Americans) in the real world with everybody else.”

Eaton wasn’t aware of the “Never Miss a Super Bowl” club until the mid-2010s. Former club member Larry Jacobson saw an article about Eaton never missing a game. Jacobson introduced Eaton to the club, including Crisman and Henschel.

“They’re like my family now,” Eaton said.

Given his health, Crisman said Sunday could be his final Super Bowl.

“But I’ve said that before,” he said.

In recent years, the game has become secondary.

“It’s half the reason I come,” Crisman said. “It’s to be with the guys. It’s a reunion.”

Added Eaton on the group’s friendship: “It’s something that we’ll go to our grave with.”


Contact Alex Wright at Follow @AlexWright1028 on X.

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