ORLANDO, Fla. – Tom Henschel has spent the past 55 years of his life living every football fan’s dream.
“Here I am holding my first 16 ticket stubs, here I am holding 36 ticket stubs. Here I am holding 40 ticket stubs,” the 79-year-old said to News 6 as he showed some of the memorabilia he’s collected since his first Super Bowl in California in 1967. Henschel is getting ready to attend his 55th Super Bowl in Tampa on Feb. 7.
“I don’t get nervous and I’m very fearless, let’s put it that way, and uh--but I can feel my heart beating just a little bit more because the Bucs are in the Super Bowl for the second time ever,” he said.
For more than five decades the Pittsburgh native hasn’t missed going to a single Super Bowl game. The tickets to the first game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum were gifted to him.
“Well, they were very cheap back in those days. The first three were only $12 each,” he said “Oh, I’m so lucky. Being in the right place at the right time.”
He recalled his luck began while working at an airline ticket counter and also nightshifts as a bartender at the airport.
“I’m meeting all the guys. A couple of them took a liking to me and I got tickets getting me in for the first, the second, then third, and the fifth,” he said.
As for the third Super Bowl? He said he took a chance on game day.
“I went down there couldn’t get tickets; I picked up one about 3 hours before game time for $12, then after that-- the 4th Super Bowl in New Orleans, oh my goodness, I’ve never been to that city and I just fell in love with it and I said after that fourth Super Bowl, I’m gonna go to every game,” Henschel said.
At heart, Henschel is a Steelers fan, but that doesn’t keep him from rooting for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the city he’s called home for 40 years.
“Secondly, I’m a Bucs fan, a Dolphin fan, a Bear fan...I got a lot of favorite teams,” he said with a laugh.
He also remembered one time calling the score of 27-23 for the 2009 super bowl in Tampa a few days before the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Arizona Cardinals game.
“All my friends back in Pittsburgh were going crazy. I named it even before--a couple of days before the game,” he said.
So, what does he predict will happen in this year’s 2021 Super Bowl?
“Oh, I think it’s gonna be the last team that has the ball to win this game; I think it’s gonna be a field goal at the last second; one of those nail biters.”