TAMPA — Tom Henschel’s love for football started a long way from the bright lights of the Super Bowl.
“My dad loved football. He would bundle us up and we’d go to every high school game," said Henschel who grew up in Pittsburgh.
As a young man working at an airline, Tom said he made friends with several players and was given free tickets to the first couple Super Bowls.
Once he started going to the big game, he never stopped.
He's seen his beloved Steelers win six Super Bowls.
“There were at least five or six games that I can recall that I went to the stadium early and didn’t have a ticket.”
Tom almost missed Super Bowl VI when he was hospitalized on game day in New Orleans and a nurse said he had to stay for observation.
“As soon as she walked out, I pulled out my IV, took off my oxygen mask, got out of there, waved down a cab, got back to the hotel, and went to the game.”
Tom thought he wasn’t going to be able to buy a ticket to this year’s Super Bowl even though it’s in his hometown.
Only 22,000 tickets are available for the game between Tampa Bay and Kansas City.
But the NFL came through and the streak will live on.
“Oh man, I feel so gifted. They finally called and said you are one of our best fans. We found where you’ll be able to buy two."
Tom does have to pay $2500 bucks each for his tickets.
But it's a big difference from the $12 bucks he paid the first few years.
Whatever the cost, he says his memories are priceless.
“Friday before the Super Bowl all my ticket stubs will go back in the safe deposit box.”
He has every ticket stub and every program.
Family has also been a big part of the big game.
Tom went to Super Bowls with his parents and 32 of them with his now-deceased brother.
“Since he passed on, I’ve been able to, my three sisters all got to see a game. And I’ve got every niece and nephew got to see one game. And my wife got to see 13.”
They call it the “Never Missed a Super Bowl Club.”
Some members have passed away.
But Tom is heading to number 55 with no plans to stop the streak.