Janie Marini was 10 years old when she traveled to the old Kezar Stadium in San Francisco to catch her first 49er game with her father. That was in 1958.
Fifty-five years and countless games later. The unshakably devout 49er fan will attend her sixth Super Bowl in which her favorite team is competing.
“I’ve always been into sports,” Marini said. “My husband and I got season tickets ourselves in our name 32 years ago. We go to all the games, and we travel to the away games. Over the years, we’ve been really fortunate. We’ve gone to the Super Bowls, and we go to the playoff games.”
Marini and her husband, Tom, were most recently at the 49ers’ comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship.
“It was a great experience,” she said. “The people were wonderful, and the fans were good to us. Tom and I were the only Niner fans in the section, so we got a lot of ribbing, but it was quiet when they lost.”
The Marinis have also traveled as far as Berlin, Barcelona and London on two different occasions to catch the 49ers in overseas contests.
Janie, who owns Marini Accounting in Grass Valley, and Tom are now headed to New Orleans with about 350 other 49er fanatics as a part of a fan travel group to see live what has evaded the 49er faithful for the last 18 years.
“The Niners will win,” she said. “It will be a tough game, and the Ravens have the whole Ray Lewis stuff with this being his last year, but Lewis is a little older than the guys he’s going up against.”
Janie’s faith in her team has never wobbled, she said, even during the losing seasons that have plagued San Francisco for the last decade.
“For years and years, we parked in the same spot in the parking lot and tailgated with the same people who were from all over, and we only knew them because it was game day,” she said. “A lot of those people stopped being season ticket holders when they started losing. We’ve never stopped. We kept going for 32 years straight. In fact, we already have our tickets for the new stadium — signed, sealed and delivered.”
Fellow season ticket holder Mark Hauser said Janie is the biggest 49er fan he knows, and he was happy to hear she won the season ticket holders drawing for Super Bowl tickets.
“She’s as big a fan as they get,” he said. “I was really pulling for her because she is so deserving. You can’t find a bigger fan and just a wonderful lady.”
Janie said after winning the draw she upgraded to get seats in the lower deck, seats that cost more than $1,000 each. They are well worth it, she said.
Like many sports fans, Janie has her superstitions.
She always wears her 49ers watch and her No. 84 jersey.
“Now, it’s not Moss’,” she said. “It’s Brent Jones. Brent Jones is my favorite player of all time. I just really like him, he was great, he’s down to earth, he caught everything, and when we would travel to the away games, he would always come to the hotel and take pictures and sign pictures. He’s just a good, good person.”
Tom is not immune to superstition, either. He wears the same sweater he purchased at the 1995 Super Bowl when the 49ers thumped the San Diego Chargers.
“He wore it against Green Bay, wore it in Atlanta and will be wearing it Sunday,” Janie said.
While the 49ers are the Marinis’ favorite team, their love for football extends to all levels. During football season, they can be seen at Nevada Union Miners games, Stanford Cardinal games and, of course, 49er games.
“On Saturdays, we go to Stanford games, and on Sundays, we go to 49er games,” Janie said. “We do that from August to January if we’re lucky.”
Unfortunately, the Marinis were unable to attend the recent Stanford Rose Bowl win because of the year-end fiscal cliff situation.
“I had to be here because we didn’t know what was going to happen,” she said. “It was very hard not to go to the Rose Bowl, but last year we went to the Fiesta Bowl.”
Come Sunday, Janie said she is looking forward to seeing 49er quarterback Colin Kaepernick cement his place in Niner lore. And for the record, she said she was on board with the mid-season switch.
“We knew about him from his time at UNR,” she said. “Just a great kid. Alex has been great, but you know he didn’t do too much for us through the years. But a lot of that has to do with the offensive coordinator changing every year. But I think all of us knew Harbaugh had plans for him. It just happened a little early.”
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.