LAS VEGAS — Had Larry Sherman’s friend’s son been available on Sept. 28, 2014, Sherman might never have met his future wife.
But that day in Levi’s Stadium, Crescencia Vincent arrived in the seat next to him in Section 326. As Frank Gore led the 49ers to a win over the Eagles, they hit it off right away. As two lifelong, diehard Niners fans, a connection came naturally to them.
That was Crescencia’s first game at Levi’s Stadium. Four years and dozens of 49ers-centric memories later, they got married.
And now, a decade after they first met, the Northern California couple is going to their first Super Bowl together.
“I think what it does is it brings the Larry and Crescencia story full circle,” Larry said two days before Super Bowl LVIII.
They’ve been to hundreds of 49ers games together, sitting in the same seats where they met. They got engaged during a private stadium tour of Levi’s Stadium in 2017. They’ve taken trips to away games and visited Canton, Ohio, for Eddie DeBartolo’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
On the couple’s nine-hour drive from the Sacramento area to Las Vegas, Larry and Crescencia had plenty of time to reminisce.
“I’m still in shock that we’re going,” Crescencia said. “I’m just ecstatic that I’m going to be able to see this and I get to experience it with my husband. I’m just in awe.”
Crescencia grew up in Orange County and started rooting for the 49ers when she was 9 years old, deciding with her sister to go against their father’s favorite team, the Cowboys. Larry has had season tickets since 2000, when the Niners still played at Candlestick Park.
Their lives seem to revolve around the 49ers. Larry works as a parts manager at a Sacramento Jaguar-Land Rover dealership. Crescencia works in the California Department of General Service. He’s 62, she’s 46, an age difference that isn’t lost on them; everything seems to come back to the red and gold.
“Ironically, 16 years (apart),” Larry said, referencing Joe Montana’s jersey number.
When Larry proposed to Crescencia, he brought her and a big group of friends on a private tour of Levi’s Stadium. He wore a Montana jersey and stuck a pin from their first game together into her Jerry Rice jersey before taking a knee on the field.
They got engaged at the same place they met when Crescencia got the last-minute invite by Larry’s seat neighbor. Their journey began via serendipity, and he brought it back there with a surprise proposal.
“They were made for each other,” said Charles Duncan, a friend who flew out from Colorado for the proposal.
At their 49ers-themed wedding in Tahoe the next year, they set up tables numbered after the franchise’s retired jerseys. Miniature Lombardi Trophies served as centerpieces and Super Bowl-style rings engraved with the couple’s names were the party favors. Crescencia walked down the aisle not to a processional song, but to an audio recording of Dwight Clark’s legendary catch in the 1982 NFC Championship Game.
They go to every home game and often tailgate with Niner Empire, the fan organization founded by Joe Leonor. Leonor helped hook them up with the customized Super Bowl rings and has seen them grow together through the years, at tailgates, their wedding and beyond.
“The coolest thing is that before they got married, you could see the love they had for each other,” Leonor said.
On Draft Day in 2016, the couple was on a vacation in Tahoe when Crescencia suggested Larry get a tattoo. Seven hours later, he had five Lombardi Trophies on his left arm.
“With room for six, and the tattoo artist is on standby,” Larry said.
At their Cameron Park home, Larry’s “man cave” is filled with autographed seats from Candlestick Park. He has used lockers from Alex Smith and Alex Boone. The walls are draped with flags, pennants, signed balls and framed signed jerseys of Montana, Clark, Steve Young and Joe Staley.
How much of their relationship revolves around the 49ers?
“Every bit of it,” Duncan. “It’s not a passion, it’s a lifestyle.”
For the Super Bowl, Larry and Crescencia didn’t win the season-ticket lottery, so they’re banking on the secondary market for tickets. They’re shooting for tickets at Allegiant Stadium with a similar viewpoint as theirs at Levi’s — behind the end zone, so they can watch wide receivers’ routes develop. Larry said they’re comfortable spending $15,000 for the pair.
“But I believe that the experience is going to be priceless,” Larry said.
For a couple as invested as they are, it’d better be. They’ve seen just about everything fans possibly could, except for a Super Bowl win. That could change Sunday.
“I don’t want to necessarily say it completes the journey, because the journey is still only beginning,” Larry said of a Super Bowl victory. “But it does definitely check everything off.”