Bob Cook’s streak of attending every Super Bowl game ended Sunday after he fell ill last Thursday and ended up in the hospital, where he remains in serious condition.
But the streak for his family remains in force, thanks to some creative crisis travel management by his wife, Sarah, and daughter Kylie.
Cook had received a lot of press in the weeks before Super Bowl XVL as one of 4 men who had attended every Super Bowl game. We posted a story about it last week. The others, Don Crisman, Tom Henschel and Larry Jacobson, made it to Dallas on Sunday to watch the Packers beat the Steelers and extend their Super Bowl streak to 45.
Cook of Brown Deer, WI, and the only diehard Packers fan among the group, had no choice but to cancel his trip. His wife, Sarah, speaking by phone Monday, would not disclose the nature of his illness but said his condition has stabilized, and she hopes her husband will return home sometime next week.
“It’s kind of bittersweet,” she said of the Packers win. “We wish we could have made it. But we were in a hospital room.”
Sarah Cook and her daughter Kylie performed an all-star effort to ensure that Kylie and another daughter, Patti Winter, made it to the game to represent their ailing father and Sarah at the game.
Sarah Cook booked 2 flights on American Airlines last October each for about $200 roundtrip. She and Bob were scheduled to leave last Thursday. Since their home team was playing in the Super Bowl, Sarah Cook was more eager than usual to attend the game. She joined her husband on about a dozen previous Super Bowl trips, attending the game half the time.
The Cooks purchased a ticket from the NFL and received two complimentary ticket from VISA for Bob’s involvement in the company’s Super Bowl promotion that featured the “Never Miss a Super Bowl Club.” They gave one of their tickets from Visa to their daughter Kylie.
After Sarah Cook realized she and Bob would not travel to Dallas, she accessed the travel resource website IgoUgo.com and found another flight on American through the online airline discounter CheapOair, paying about $1,800 for 2 round-trip tickets. A Frontier Airlines flight from Milwaukee to Des Moines, IA, was scheduled to leave at about 3 p.m. Friday.
The Cooks found out from an automated call from American Airlines at about 7 a.m. Friday that snow and ice in Dallas forced the airline to cancel all flights into Dallas that day. The recording asked them to hold to speak with an American Airline’s customer representative who could help them rebook the flight. But after the call ended abruptly and Cook was unable to change her arrangement online with American, she called CheapOair and was told the flight was not canceled.
Unable to resolve the issue with CheapOair, Sarah Cook yielded to her daughter Kylie, who looked into flying into Dallas Love Field Airport instead of the original destination at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport and booked a direct Southwest Airlines flight from Milwaukee to Dallas Love. The flight departed Milwaukee at about 9:30 p.m.
Kylie Cook and Patti Winter arrived at their hotel in Dallas at about 2 a.m.
The costs of the 2 round-trip tickets escalated from about $400 to about $1,500. Sarah Cook said the residuals Bob Cook has been receiving from Visa for the commercials helped ease the decision to pay more for the tickets.
“You can’t take money with you when you die,” she said. “And emotionally it was worth it because of Bob being sick and because the Packers were playing.”
In Dallas, Kylie Cook and Patti Winter attended a luncheon and the game with Crisman, Henschel and Jacobson. And in a caricatured sense, Bob Cook attended the game as well. Before they left for Dallas Kylie Cook and Winters made a placard of Bob Cook’s face from a picture used as part of the Visa campaign. Also, Kylie Cook and Winters sent text messages to their father throughout the game.
Bob Cook was alert and able to watch the first half, but he tired during much of the second half before rallying at the end of the game and watched the Packers hold on to win 31-25.
Officially, Bob Cook has missed his first Super Bowl game. But if attending the game in spirit counts, Cook’s streak continues, with an asterisk.