51 Super Bowls and Counting: Half a Century of Friendship and Football

February 04, 2018 08:14 AM

(KSTP) -- As Super Bowl visitors continue to flock to the Twin Cities, a group of friends from the East Coast – known as the Super Bowl 5 – will attend their 52nd Super Bowl.

"It means we have an opportunity to be together again," said Sylvan Schefler, a member of group. "It's the ambiance of the game honestly. That's the most exciting part about it."


Schefler, along with Harvey Rothenberg, Lew Rapaport, Larry McDonald and Al Schragis, started their Super Bowl journey back in 1967, when they watched the Green Bay Packers defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl I at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The tickets cost $10 apiece.

"Somebody said, 'Let's do it again next year,'" McDonald said. "We kind of looked at each other, and here we are."

Since then they've had more than half a century of laughter, friendship, and football, as the men from the east coast eye their 52nd Super Bowl – this time in Minneapolis. 

But after 51 games, this year is different. Schragis, whose nickname is "The Prez," wasn't well enough to travel.

"We're rooting for him, we're rooting for him," Schefler said.

The friends wear matching blazers with "Super Bowl 5" patches on the jacket pocket to every Super Bowl. They also wear matching rings and watches.

Their wives have never joined them for a Super Bowl, and they have a story about that.

"Our wives kept bugging us about going to a Super Bowl," Rapaport said. The men brought their wives on what they called a "test run" to the Canadian Football championship in Montreal some years back. 

"'It's too cold, we'll fly home. You guys go to the game,'" Rapaport recalled the women saying at the time. "It was the first and last time we invited them to a game."

The men say one of their most memorable moments came during the 1991 Super Bowl in Tampa when Whitney Houston sang the national anthem during the Gulf War.

"That was a very patriotic Super Bowl, very patriotic," Rapaport said. "All of us are veterans."

Added McDonald: "There were pro football players by us – they just had tears in their eyes. It was really nice." 

The group's members are die-hard New York Giants fans expect for McDonald, who lives in Atlanta and cheers for the Falcons. 

On Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona, where the Giants snuck by New England by a score of 17-14: "It was my favorite game," Schefler said. "It meant more. Remember, the Patriots were undefeated. Not only did we beat them, but we stopped that incredible motion."

As these friends get ready for Super Bowl LII, they plan to cheer this time for the Patriots against their dreaded NFC opponents from Philadelphia.

"Ninety percent of the time we don't have a favorite player," McDonald said. "We watch the football game and enjoy each other's company." 


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