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Rare company: The 16 who have attended every Super Bowl

football
By Jill Martin

CNN

SAN FRANCISCO (CNN) — Kansas City Chiefs owner Norma Hunt is quite familiar with Super Bowls. She’s been to every single one of them.

But she’s not the only person to accomplish such a hefty feat.

On Friday, the NFL brought together in San Francisco all 16 people who have attended every Super Bowl since Super Bowl I in 1967. The members were presented with a commemorative Super Bowl 50 coin by Pro Football Hall of Famer Dave Robinson, who was a member of the Green Bay Packers’ Super Bowl I and II championship teams.

“This is such a special thing for all of us,” Hunt said. “For me, it’s been such amazing fun. I don’t consider it an accomplishment or an achievement in any way. It’s just been a pleasure the whole way.”

‘It’s sort of like Christmas or Thanksgiving’

The “All 50 Super Bowls Group” is comprised of three writers (Dave Klein, Jerry Green and Jerry Izenberg); three photographers (John Biever, Walter Iooss, Jr. and Mickey Palmer); one groundskeeper (George Toma); one team rep (Hunt); and eight fans (Donald Crisman, Thomas Henschel, Larry Jacobson, Larry McDonald, Lew Rapoport, Alvin Schragis, Harvey Rothenberg and Sylvan Schefler).

During Crisman’s streak, there actually was one game — he couldn’t remember which one, it was somewhere between Super Bowl XXII and Super Bowl XV — when he went as a member of the media. The local newspaper, the York County Coast Star in Maine, asked him to chronicle his journey on a daily basis.

Crisman said he wandered into the media center, and a gentleman said to him, “We’re glad to have you here. York County, that’s the heart of football country. … I look forward to seeing your articles.”

“‘I’ll do the best I can,'” Crisman replied to the men. He brought the story up-to-date: “I came to find out later he thought it was York County, Pennsylvania.”

At first, it was a job for Iooss to cover Super Bowls as a photographer. But now, he says, “it’s sort of like Christmas or Thanksgiving. It’s part of an annual event you do every year. In some ways I feel like a survivor of Normandy now.”

But there is something that Iooss has missed in all of his years covering Super Bowls.

“I’ve never seen the commercials,” he said.

‘And then the stripper came out’

It’s funny how people at the same event remember different things. Take some of the festivities at Tulane Stadium for Super Bowl IV.

It was the first year New Orleans had hosted a Super Bowl. Part of the hoopla was a reenactment of the Battle of New Orleans from the War of 1812, and there were women dressed as Southern belles in the stands. Izenberg recalls the Chiefs’ and Vikings’ respective mascots set up to fly in hot air balloons.

But there was a malfunction.

“The guy’s got the Viking horns, and the balloon blows off course and is heading for the Southern belles,” Izenberg said. “And I’m looking through the binoculars, and the Southern belles all of a sudden are — I mean, they all look like albinos, they turned so white. And then it was time for the guy from the Kansas City Chiefs. He said, ‘I ain’t getting in that balloon. You gotta be out of your mind.’ It was a nightmare.”

Iooss has a different memory from that day: The Mardi Gras halftime show.

“One guy set himself on fire for halftime entertainment,” Iooss said. “And then the stripper came out. They were tearing her clothes off… as they dragged her off the field. That was the real halftime entertainment. I didn’t even see the balloons.”

Origins of the ‘Super Bowl’ name started at a toy store

And if a perfect attendance record wasn’t enough for Hunt, not only has she been to every Super Bowl, but she also has been to more regular-season games than NFL commissioners Pete Rozelle, Paul Tagliabue and Roger Goodell combined.

Hunt also played a small role in how the iconic event got its name. It all started at a toy store in Dallas.

Hunt was shopping for some gifts for her children, and when she was checking out, she noticed a display on the counter for “Super Balls.” The cardboard depiction showed kids bouncing the balls really high, as if “it could bounce over a small house,” Hunt said.

“I thought, ‘Oh, our kids will love these,'” she recalled. She bought three of them for Clark, Sharron and Lamar Jr.; her fourth child, Daniel, had not been born yet.

In a league meeting, the late Lamar Hunt, Norma’s husband and founder of the Chiefs, recalled the toy, and an idea popped into his head.

He hated the moniker “AFL-NFL World Championship,” which is what the league used as the name for the championship for the first two years. His idea: Call it the “Super Bowl” instead. And thus, the name was born. It was used starting with the third annual championship game, and the first two championships were renamed Super Bowls I and II retroactively.

As the Super Bowl was nearing its fourth decade, her husband told her that she was the only woman to have attended them all to that point. But she wasn’t ready to broadcast that to the world.

“‘Well I don’t want you to tell anybody, or I’m going to tell everybody I was 8 when I went to the first game,'” Hunt recalls telling him.

Now? “This is very aging. By Super Bowl 50, you can’t do anything about it. It’s just what it is, you know? I’m feeling so fortunate about that.”

The-CNN-Wire
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