Sometimes nine yards in a football game isn’t enough for a first down, but for Larry McDonald it was pay dirt to a bonanza at Sunday’s 50th Super Bowl.
McDonald and four of his friends have an all-expenses paid trip to the big game courtesy of the National Football League.
“They’re putting us up in a place to stay and giving us the tickets — the whole nine yards,” the Greensboro resident gushed last week.
These five men, who call themselves “the Super Bowl Five,” have all attended the last 49 Super Bowls from the first one in Los Angeles to last year’s game in Glendale, Ariz.
So rare is their attendance record that the Today Show on NBC flew them to New York City last week for an interview that aired on Friday.
“They treated us like kings,” said McDonald, a retired homebuilder and developer from Atlanta who has lived in Reynolds Plantation for the past 14 years.
McDonald and his pals, all from New York — Harvey Rothenberg, Sylvan Schefler, Lou Rappaport and Al Schragis — have all become good friends over the years. McDonald is 81 and the others range in age from 79 to 85.
“We have a very strong bond. I always kid that I’m the token Southerner,” he said.
They met years ago when McDonald sold one of the men some property in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.
“One of the guys used to own the Doral Country Club down in Miami. We stayed there and had a good time and got to know each other,” he said.
“They are all New Yorkers and all very successful people. They have homes in New York and Florida,” McDonald said.
The five have seen 49 Super Bowls, but it’s not easy for McDonald to pick a favorite game.
“I’ve been asked that question a hundred times,” he said. “Last year was a really good one, but the 23rd between the (San Francisco) 49ers and the Cincinnati (Bengals) was a great ball game.” The 49ers won in the last 34 seconds on a touchdown pass from Joe Montana.
On Sunday McDonald will be rooting for the Denver Broncos.
“I’d like to see Manning do well, but I think Cam Newton is something else. He’s probably one of the better ball players we’ve seen come along. I really think Carolina will win, but I’d like Manning to do well.”
McDonald’s favorite venue over the years has been New Orleans, which has hosted 10 Super Bowls.
“There are so many things to do. Bourbon Street and usually they have Mardi gras the same time,” he explained.
McDonald, who grew up in the College Park area of Atlanta, said that while he and his buddies always get together for the Super Bowl, they occasionally meet during the year for other occasions.
“We talk on the phone and e-mail back and forth,” he said. “One has a home in the Hamptons and sometimes we go up and stay a week or so, but most of the time we only see each other at the Super Bowl.
The 50th Super Bowl will be one to remember.
“I already have my ticket. I’m on the 50 yard line in the VIP section. That’s in high cotton,” the Southerner said.”