Who Is Dion Rich and Why Was He Hoisting Dallas Cowboys Coach Tom Landry After a Super Bowl Win?
Dion Rich has something in common with Tom Brady. He makes getting to the Super Bowl look easy. Rich doesn’t play, however. And he usually doesn’t pay, either. Rich is known as the world’s greatest gatecrasher and has managed to attend 35 Super Bowls by sneaking in.
Who is Dion Rich?
In the 1960s, Dion Rich owned a couple of bars in the San Diego area, one right near the San Diego Chargers practice facility. Rich’s bar eventually became a place where players, coaches, and other executives would meet. When visiting teams came to town, they, too, would spend time at the San Diego bar. Rich became friendly with many in the football world.
Rich began relationships with some of the players and oftentimes he would ride up to a game with a coach or a player. He would never pay his way to get in and he’s spend much of his time on the sidelines with the team. He enjoyed himself and wound up making a habit of it.
“I got to know a lot of the Kansas City players real well,” Rich told Rolling Stone Magazine in 2015. “So when they made the first World Championship Game and I found out where they were staying in L.A., I got up early, found where the buses were going to park and got there just ahead of them. When they got off the bus, I brought a jacket a Chiefs player had already given me and walked off the bus with them and into the locker room.” And that’s when it all began.
Rich hoisted Tom Landry after Super Bowl 12
One of Rich’s finest Super Bowl moments came in 1978 when the Dallas Cowboys were playing the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 12. “In Super Bowl 12, my ultimate goal was to get a picture with Tom Landry,” Rich said in a video put out by Bleacher Report.
“I got permission from Red Miller, the coach with Denver, to get on the bus. I had my USA Today like this (covering his face) because you never know who might come by and spot me. The bus pulled right up to the field. You have to walk in with the crowd. If you walk in by yourself, the security officer is going to come up and ask you for your credential.
“I was right there (on the field) where they were making the plays. I started easing my way over to get in a position to get Landry on my shoulder. Right at the time when the clock hit zero, I’m like this close to him. Red Miller comes across to congratulate Landry and he sees me right there with Landry on my shoulder. That picture is in the NFL Hall of Fame. I had no idea that would ever happen.”
Dion Rich doesn’t just drop in at Super Bowls
In a 2018, article in vt.com, Rich was also able to get an up-close view in the first Super Bowl when the Green Bay Packers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs. He was right up there on stage when then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle handed the Super Bowl trophy to Packers quarterback Bart Starr. In that article, the then-87-year-old Rich said he hadn’t gatecrashed a Super Bowl in a few years.
He said security has gotten tighter and he’s become well-known to NFL security. He’s had to put on wigs, fake beards, and has also had to dig up old press passes from previous events to help find his way into the event. Rich doesn’t just stop at Super Bowls, either. He has crashed the Olympic Games, World Series, and the Academy Awards, among others.
When he was 84, Rich told The New York Daily News that age hasn’t caught up with him, technology has. “My age has no bearing on it,” said Rich. “I’m more astute at gatecrashing now at 84. I have more acumen now, but it’s a whole new ballgame, for two reasons. I’ve screwed it up, because they know me. And because of 9/11, because of the terrorists, you get through one metal detector, then there’s another, then there’s another. They’re scanning your ticket. It can be done, I think, but it would have to be by using a lot of my techniques over the years.”