Most guys who really want to impress a girl use the traditional wooing methods. They’ll buy a dozen roses, maybe take her out to dinner or spend a night at the movies.
San Francisco native Larry Jacobson got his special girl two tickets to the first Super Bowl, held in Los Angeles in 1967. While the ruse didn’t work with his lady, it did start a lifelong relationship with professional football’s biggest game.
Since that initial dalliance in 1967, Jacobson has yet to miss a Super Bowl, a streak that will continue Sunday in Arlington, Texas, where he is set to attend the 45th edition of the NFL championship contest.
Throughout his four-plus decades of attending the contest, the Noe Valley resident has seen a lot of inevitable changes, most noticeably in the ticket prices of the game.
“In 1967, a ticket to the Super Bowl cost $12,” said Jacobson. “That won’t even buy you a program now.”
An avid sports fan (he has season tickets to 49ers, Giants and Cal football games), Jacobson initially had no plans to become a regular Super Bowl attendee after going to the inaugural contest.
On a whim, he decided to attend Super Bowl II because the Raiders were playing, and they were “a sexy team at the time,” and the following year he witnessed Joe Namath and the New York Jets pull off a stunning upset of the Baltimore Colts.
“After that,” Jacobson said, “I was hooked.”
In his determination to catch every Super Bowl, Jacobson has traversed the country, attending games in New Orleans, Miami, and Minneapolis. His streak has nearly been broken on a few occasions, including the 1982 contest between the 49ers and Cincinnati Bengals.
“I showed up to Super Bowl XVI in Detroit without my ticket,” said Jacobson. “Thankfully, I was able to talk to someone there and I managed to get in. Legally, by the way.”
Jacobson has attended most of the games alone, but on occasion he would take his daughters or his wife. His family often traveled with him to enjoy a mini-vacation at the host site of the Super Bowl.
Following the Super Bowl in 1999 between the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons, Jacobson’s commitment to the game began attracting some attention. At that contest, held in Miami, the public address announcer mentioned that Jacobson and three other fans were part of an elite group never to miss the Super Bowl.
One of Jacobson’s fellow Super Bowl devotees, Stan Whitaker, began organizing annual trips for the four men who’d never missed the contest (they were later joined by another superfan). They all began sitting together for Super Bowl XL in Detroit, the 2006 matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Seattle Seahawks. This summer, Visa began a national advertising campaign featuring the group.
“It’s been amazing,” Jacobson said. “Every time I see someone I know, they congratulate me for being on TV. I feel like a celebrity in my neighborhood.”
Most Memorable Super Bowl
“They’re always memorable, because each one is different. The first one was very special, and so was the second one. Some of the more amazing upsets, like when the Patriots beat the Rams, or when the Giants beat the Patriots, are the ones that stick out the most.”
Worst Super Bowl
“When the Ravens beat the Giants in 2001, I had these seats inside the 20-yard line. But the game was a blowout, and there ended up being only one play inside the red zone the whole contest. Toward the end, a couple of women came down in front of me and started taking photos of the field. They asked me if they were blocking my view. I answered, ‘You are, but there is nothing to see anyway.’”
Most Memorable Moment
“I had the worst seats for XXIII at Joe Robbie Stadium in Miami. I could barely see any of the action, but at the end of the game, I had a perfect view of my favorite play in the Super Bowl. John Taylor caught a pass from Joe Montana to beat the Bengals 20-16. I saw Taylor running before the throw, and he was moving so fast, I swore he was going to run out of the end zone. And I got to see all of that.”
Chances of 49ers making it back to Super Bowl
“I’m not going to make any predictions on that. It could happen in a year or two, or it could take a real long time. I’m always hopeful.”
Pick for this year’s Super Bowl
“I hate to pick teams, because I have favorites and those usually overshadow my good judgment. That said, I’m definitely rooting for the Packers. Aaron Rodgers went to Cal, and they really seem like a team full of characters.”
WHEN: Sunday, 3:30 p.m.
WHERE: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas
TV: Fox (KTVU, Ch. 2)
RADIO: KNBR (680 AM)