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Q&A: 'Never Miss a Super Bowl Club' club is for real

The Super Bowl ad guys are real

Visa is airing a commercial of four men who have been to every Super Bowl. Are these guys for real or are they actors and the story made up?

They're for real, and one member of the group is a Tampa man who has been written about in newspapers around the country.

Tom Henschel, 69, of Tampa is one of the four men in the "Never Miss a Super Bowl Club" club highlighted in the Visa commercials. The others are Don Crisman of Kennebunk, Maine; Robert Cook of Brown Deer, Wis.; and Larry Jacobsen of San Francisco. They have sat together at the past 14 Super Bowls. There used to be five in the group, but Stan Whitaker of Denver dropped out because of health issues.

Henschel, a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, was a ticket agent for Northwest Airlines at Chicago's O'Hare Airport in 1967, with a side job as a bartender. The owner of the bar gave him a ticket for the first title game between the National Football League and American Football League champions. As an airline employee, he flew to the game in California for free and watched the Green Bay Packers pound the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10.

The next year he got a free ticket from Chicago quarterback Jack Concannon, and the following year he bought one for $12 because western Pennsylvania legend Joe Namath was one of the quarterbacks.

He was hooked. "It was after that that I decided I was never going to miss a Super Bowl," he told the Valley News Dispatch in November.

Henschel will be in Dallas on Sunday for his 45th game. He attends with friends and family members, and his goal is 50 "as long as we're healthy," he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2009. "Even if one of us has to use a cane or push the other one in a wheelchair, we'll be there."

The closest he has come to missing a game was Super Bowl VI in 1972 in New Orleans. He said he woke up on game day in the hospital, suffering from bronchial asthma and too much partying.

"I came to with IVs and an oxygen mask," he told the Post-Gazette. "The (nurse) told me I had to stay in the hospital. Well, as soon as she left I pulled the IV out and took the oxygen off and got the heck out of that hospital."

He has gotten into games free, and he has paid as much as $1,400 to a scalper. Once the NFL heard about the streak, it started offering members of the club tickets at face value.

Elastic bands are just for show

What is the benefit of NFL players wearing thin elastic bands on their arms?

None, really, according to a 2008 story in the New York Times. Players say they wear the bands only because they think they look good.

"There is absolutely no benefit from a performance standpoint or a medical standpoint," Ralph Reiff, a certified athletic trainer and director of St. Vincent Sports Performance in Indianapolis, told the Times. "It's purely a fashion statement."

Q&A: 'Never Miss a Super Bowl Club' club is for real 02/03/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 3, 2011 4:25pm]
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