Super Bowl LI draws attendees, new and old

By Jaaziah Bethea
Reporting from Houston

Attending the Super Bowl is on the bucket list of many NFL fans, especially when their team is playing in the big game. Super Bowl LI in Houston is no exception. More than half a million fans are estimated to be here, some for their first Super Bowl, others are veterans, but all have predictions.

Gregory Levett, 66, is an Atlanta Falcons fan who will be attending his first Super Bowl. He is excited about the experience. He will be attending with his wife and some other members of his church. His seats are by the 30-yard line on the lower level. He predicts the Falcons win 34-31 and will be ahead the entire game.

“It [attending the Falcons Super Bowl game] has been on my bucket list,” Levett said. “I’m excited to finally attend. Julio Jones all the way.”

Likewise, Martin Merritt, 53, has been a New England Patriots fan all his life, grew up in Hartford, Conn. and this is his first Super Bowl.

“Patriots are going to win 27-24,” Merritt said.

Super Bowl LI

As for taking a while to see the Patriots in the Super Bowl Merritt said, “I wish I came earlier. This is awesome. This is the best. I wish I didn’t wait this long.”

However, there are some fans who do not wait, and take complete advantage of attending the game again and again.

For Luke Hohlt, 16, this is his third Super Bowl. He predicts the Falcons win 24-17.

“Patriots have won enough [Super Bowls],” Hohlt said. “Their time is up. Patriots have the ball last, but still lose.”

Another young attendee, 26-Year-old, David Driscoll, who is from Braintree, Mass., will also be attending his third Super Bowl. He has attended the last two Patriots’ Super Bowls in 2012 and 2015. Driscoll said this Super Bowl should be a high scoring game, with a pretty close score. He’s taking the Patriots 34-27.

“The first one [Super Bowl] was a letdown,” Driscoll said. “[Because] we lost, we don’t expect to lose, especially two in a row to the same team [The Patriots lost twice to the NY Giants]. The second was a shocker. Malcolm Butler with that interception at the very end, what could be better?”

Some fans get the opportunity to attend many Super Bowls, Rick Cassidy, 60 who is a Patriots fan, has attended eight Super Bowls, including this one.

“The last one we [Patriots] went back to Arizona where we had lost before, when David Tyree caught that ball off his forehead and Rodney Harrison couldn’t knock it away,” Cassidy said. “There was some redemption right there, with Butler in the last seconds of the game.”

Cassidy also spoke about attending a Super Bowl where the game brings about a greater feeling than being a football fan alone can bring.

“15 years ago, in New Orleans after 9/11, it was a great, great emotional experience,” Cassidy said. “It was a great game they came back from behind, it was just a great game. Great finish.”

Photo at top: The Patriots and Falcons headline Super Bowl LI in Houston. (Jaaziah Bethea/MEDILL)