Editor’s note: By request, this is a reprint, updated, of an article Lynne Champlin wrote for last year’s Super Bowl.
As I watched the playoffs ahead of Super Bowl 50, I haven’t seen a commercial that could compete with my favorite from last year. You might remember it, too.
It was the one with those three hefty former football stars doing their Heisman Trophy pose by lifting their legs and putting their arms out. Joe Montana is just sitting in an easy chair and casually lifts his hand to his chin. He spreads his fingers out to show his four Super Bowl rings and even his thumb is weighed down with his 1977 National Title ring. He was just so cool, mumbling something like, “What an accomplishment.” I always laughed at the bland look on his face and the twinkle in his eye.
Which team do you think will win and get to wear a new Super Bowl ring? Frankly, my readers, I could not care less about the game since the Bay Area does not have a horse in the race. Oh, I am sure we will watch the game and might even go to a party. But since Steve Young, Joe Montana or Jerry Rice are not playing, its not that exciting to me. So, I suppose, I am more interested in the ring result more than the game result.
Many men and women love glitzy rings. Sports figures, Hollywood stars, the rich and the not so rich. Those who visit Las Vegas are always seen wearing flashy clothing and jewelry. Heck, even those who can afford the real thing often buy trashy imitation jewelry today and wear it with panache.
Super Bowl rings will have been made and passed out since 1967, so that means 50 Super Bowl championship rings have been designed and made through 2016. When a team wins, the owner and the management pick the company to design their special pattern and to make it. They also can make the same ring, at a lower cost, for employees, family and friends. I think that means a smaller ring, fewer diamonds or even fake stones.
The NFL does have serious rules about making these Super Bowl rings. The cost per ring is set, and if the team has won previous Super Bowls, they can spend more on the diamonds. Some rings have now become so large that many players find them uncomfortable and prefer to wear a smaller version.
Something I was surprised to learn was that the losing team gets a ring too. It has a different name, is about half the size, and has less glitz. Well, after all, they did lose the game. So it is only fair to have fewer stones on a smaller ring.
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The NFL has recently moved into a new Park Avenue location, and copies of all the rings can be viewed by the public. This would be like going to the Tower of London to see the British Crown Jewels for a sports-minded person. You might want to find the address for your next visit to New York.
The first time I came close to a Super Bowl ring was when we stayed at the El President Hotel in Loreto, Baja California. We had been camping on Baja beaches and decided it was hotel time. My husband and son wanted to go fishing in the Sea of Cortez. Our daughter and I thought pool time sounded heavenly.
I cannot remember the reason but I needed to call home. This was before cellphones. So I had to use the pay phone near the lobby and I was trying to figure it out. I could not read the Spanish directions on the phone. Nearby was a group of men standing around and talking. One noticed that I was having troubles and came over to help me. They must have been waiting for their fishing guide. As he put the correct change into the phone, I noticed a huge shining ring on his finger. It was the largest ring I had ever seen. I thanked him for the help and he left with his friends.
Later in the day, a young man came up to me in the hotel dining room and introduced himself. He asked if I knew who the man was who had helped me with the pay phone. I said no but that I appreciated his help. He told me the man’s name and that he was his nephew. Of course, I did not recognize the name and cannot remember it now. He said that his uncle was a well-known football player on a team that had just won the Super Bowl that year. I mentioned noticing the huge ring on his finger. His nephew smiled and said he was so proud of his uncle.
The next time I saw a Super Bowl ring was here in St. Helena. We were at a party at Meadowood. A friend asked if “Lamar” could sit with us at our table. He recently had hip surgery and we said ‘sure.’ He sat down next to me and my husband, we started to become better acquainted. We only knew each other by our first names. We were enjoying the party in the cool summer evening surrounded by fabulous food and Napa wines.
After a while, Philip noticed a large ring on Lamar’s hand. Suddenly, Philip connected the name Lamar with the big ring and football. He realized that this was Lamar Hunt, the owner of the Kansas City Chiefs. Philip asked if that was a Super Bowl ring. Lamar said, “Yes” and took off the ring to pass it around the table. As the ring was passed around we each got to hold it. I am sure that most at our table tried it on. It was very massive and studded with diamonds and other precious stones.
My only other Super Bowl ring connection is with my husband’s 22nd cousin, former San Francisco 49ers’ quarterback, Steven Young, who has a few of them. Years ago, Steve Young and his friend golfer Johnny Miller were invited by George Altamura to an early Hands Across the Valley fundraising event. Philip and Steve share a common grandfather, Brigham Young. We posed for pictures with Steve and Johnny Miller. Later, I sent a copy of an original Young family genealogy tree to Steve’s Foundation in Salt Lake City. In return, Steve sent us a autographed red football shirt, which is framed and hangs in our home.
To be honest, I don’t remember if Steve was wearing one of his Super Bowl rings at the time. I guess I was becoming jaded. After all, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all ..... or so they say.