56 Super Bowl rings, 56 stories
Big and small, lost and found, each ring has a unique tale to tell
Super Bowl I 1966: Green Bay Packers
Bart Starr, QB Designed by Packers coach Vince Lombardi and teammates Willie Davis and Bob Skoronski, Starr was beyond proud of his Super Bowl I ring. "I think Bart just brought it home one day when they gave it to him at the Packers' office," said Starr's wife Cherry. It was pretty enough, with a one-carat diamond set in a globe of white gold. But Starr preferred wearing his Super Bowl II ring with three diamonds, emeralds, rubies and sapphires. One day Cherry got a call claiming that Bart's original Super Bowl II ring was being sold on eBay for $100,000. "I panicked," she said, "and went running back to our safe and opened it up and thankfully it was still there. It scared me. It was a duplicate, but it looked like the real thing." To ensure nobody ever sold Starr's rings, Cherry donated them to the team's Hall of Fame during Bart's final trip to Lambeau Field in 2017.
Super Bowl II 1967: Green Bay Packers
Bob Long, WR It's a good thing Long has three rings — one for each of his children. The receiver has one for the 1965 NFL Championship, one for Super Bowl I and one for Super Bowl II. "I have three kids, so I'm glad I have three rings," Long said. "When my first son, Andrew, was born, I gave him my ring and put it in a safety deposit box. I haven't seen it in 40 years. My daughter, Jordan, gets one and my adopted son, Christian gets one." Long showed up to the first day of Packers training camp this past summer wearing his ring from Super Bowl II, and he was proud to explain why it contained by three diamonds. "(Vince) Lombardi designed the rings himself and my Super Bowl I ring has one diamond," Long said. "Super Bowl II, Lombardi wanted something to recognize the event of three-straight championships."
Super Bowl III 1968: New York Jets
John Schmitt, C "A miracle," that's how Schmitt described getting his ring back after four decades. Through an implausible series of events, he was reunited with his ring after he lost it while surfing in Hawaii 40 years ago. A lifeguard found it while snorkeling, then stashed it in his closet. When he died in 2011, his great-niece discovered the hidden treasure while rummaging through his belongings. Once they identified it as a Super Bowl ring, they contacted the NFL, which directed them to the Jets. Schmitt would befriend the family that found his ring and their bond remains strong. "We've become a big family," says Schmitt, who has vacationed with the family in Hawaii.
Super Bowl IV 1969: Kansas City Chiefs
Jan Stenerud, K The 1969 Chiefs didn't have a public event to distribute the rings to honor their Super Bowl IV victory. "We got our rings in the mail in June, I think it was," kicker Jan Stenerud said. "It was very quiet." The rings came with a small wooden plaque that read, "Remember that you are World Champions. Handle yourself with class and style, grace and dignity." It was signed "Hank Stram, head coach."
Super Bowl V 1970: Baltimore Colts
Bill Curry, C Arthritis has kept Colts center Curry from wearing his Super Bowl V ring. "It's been years and years since I've put it on," Curry said. "And when I have put it on, I've had to force on my finger pretty good. Things start to change on your body once you hit mid-70s. There was definitely a special time I wore it." Curry said the last time he wore the rings was at the funeral of Johnny Unitas, the starting quarterback on the Colts' Super Bowl team. "That was just one of many ways to pay respect to Johnny," Curry said. "People are always intrigued that I snapped the ball to [Green Bay quarterback] Bart Starr and Johnny Unitas. Super Bowl V was the last ring I won after playing in Super Bowls I, III and V."
Super Bowl VI 1971: Dallas Cowboys
Lee Roy Jordan, LB "My wife OK'd it for me to wear that on my left hand instead of wearing my wedding band," Jordan said of the ring he earned after the 1971 season. "I dislocated my right ring finger so many times I couldn't get it on that finger. I convinced her that I needed to be wearing it. She must've felt like the marriage was going to work and she said OK." Jordan and his wife, Mary, have been married for 55 years.
Super Bowl VII 1972: Miami Dolphins
Dick Anderson, S A member of the Dolphins' No-Name Defense, Anderson said the 1971 team actually got Super Bowl rings after losing. But they were silver, not gold. Then, at the beginning of the 1972 season, coach Don Shula tried to inspire his players by telling them no one remembers who lost the Super Bowl and "our goal is to be remembered." Anderson said: "I look down at those 16 diamonds and the one in the middle and smile. I wear it proudly. It represents 17-0. It was the only perfect season. It's a reminder that we did something that no one else has done. It was a special team." The Dolphins' organization brings back members of the 1972 team every five years to celebrate that milestone season, they sign memorabilia as a group and share memories of the perfect season.
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Super Bowl VIII 1973: Miami Dolphins
Larry Little, G The Super Bowl ring from 1973 has less significance than the one from the year prior, Little said, because that Dolphins team went 17-0. "I don't even know where it is," Little said of the second ring. "It's somewhere in the house. My wife put it up." Most of the Dolphins from the 1972 team played on the '73 team as well. Little did say the Dolphins "were a better team in 1973 than 1972, even though we lost two games that year. We walked through the playoffs. It was easier for us to win the Super Bowl in 1973."
Super Bowl IX 1974: Pittsburgh Steelers
Joe Greene, DT "About four years ago, I was at the (Dallas-Fort Worth) airport, and on the driver side of the car, I opened the door and when I put my hand down to get out, the ring fell off. I saw a car coming slowly and it was too close for me to pick up the ring. And a car ran over the ring. It came back, I picked it up, the diamonds and stones were still there but it changed the shape of my ring. It was an oval shape instead of round because the wheel went over the side of the ring instead of on top of it. I wore it a while but figured I better send it in to (a jeweler) and they repaired it for me. Looks great now."
Super Bowl X 1975: Pittsburgh Steelers
Terry Hanratty, QB About 15 years ago, Hanratty brought both Super Bowl rings to a show-and-tell session at his daughter's kindergarten class. He passed around the rings for the classmates to view firsthand, and when he went to collect them, the Super Bowl X ring was missing. "The teacher was sort of shocked," Hanratty said. "She started looking around. I said, 'I'm not leaving until I get it.'" Eventually, a boy in the back of the class opened a book where he had rested the ring. He was caught. "The kid was trying to cop the ring," he said.
Super Bowl XI 1976: Oakland Raiders
Fred Biletnikoff, WR The Super Bowl XI MVP takes a special pride in donning his ring, only breaking it out on rare occasions. "It's in a very safe place," Biletnikoff said with a laugh. "It means everything. After all the years of being so close and all the conference championship games, to all of a sudden have everything go right and we break through and win the whole thing? That ring means a lot." Indeed, before breaking through to win Super Bowl XI, Biletnikoff's Raiders had played in Super Bowl II, lost consecutive AFL title games and fell in four of the next six AFC championship games. "With what we went through, with all the heartbreak and crazy plays," he said, "there's a lot of pride. Nobody can take it away."
Super Bowl XII 1977: Dallas Cowboys
Drew Pearson, WR "I lost mine at Studio 54. I didn't want to be noticed or get in any negative situation so I took my ring off because I didn't want to flash it around," Pearson said. "I put it in my coat pocket and it was cool for a while, then I got to dancing and got hot so I took my coat off. When I put it back on, the ring wasn't there. I panicked." Pearson talked to the club manager who said he was welcome to come back when the cleaning crew arrived to look for it. By the time Pearson reached his hotel room, the ring had been found "I went back in the morning and got it. Here's how big a deal losing my Super Bowl ring in New York City was — it ended up in the New York Times. They covered it."
Super Bowl XIII 1978: Pittsburgh Steelers
Rocky Bleier, RB At speaking engagements, Bleier gives the audience a chance to take pictures with the rings, touch them and try them on. And since the Super Bowl XIII ring is the gaudiest, he wears it the most — which has become a problem. "People will try it on and then walk away," Bleier said. "A few steps later, they realize it's still on their finger and they have to bring it back and apologize." The rings have been to all 50 states, Canada, Germany, Italy, England and Vietnam. They've set off TSA alarms in airports. "It's a wonderful, warm experience I have from a fan base, their appreciation of what that stands for when they see the rings," Bleier said. "Even some Patriots fans have put them on. Tom Brady is not showing his six, so this is the closest they get."
Super Bowl XIV 1979: Pittsburgh Steelers
Jon Kolb, OL Not all of the originial diamonds from Jon Kolb's rings, which reside at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, are intact. A couple have been replaced with high-quality fakes as his family has used the bling for their own jewelry over the years. "My wife took the first one and made a necklace, she took the second one and made earrings," Kolb said. "My son Tanner took the third one and made a wedding ring for his wife. And Caleb, my youngest son, I told him he could have the fourth one when he was ready. He's got that at a jeweler. It's really neat to me because my hands, they don't fit rings. All four of them are getting used."
Super Bowl XV 1980: Oakland Raiders
Jim Plunkett, QB Nearly 30 years after winning Super Bowl XV MVP honors, Plunkett packed his ring and wallet in a fanny pack and put it in his car overnight, before catching an early-morning flight. His car was broken into and the fanny pack was gone. Heartbroken, Plunkett ordered a replacement. A year later, he received a phone call from a construction company working next door. The fanny pack, with the ring still in it, was found in the neighbor's hedges. "The money was gone, but the thieves didn't find the ring in the back zipper of my fanny pack," Plunkett said. "It was a little devastating to have it stolen. To get it back was pretty incredible. There was a lot of disappointment and hard work that went into getting that ring." Plunkett also has a ring from Super Bowl XVIII. But the ring he wears is the one stolen and recovered.
Super Bowl XVI 1981: San Francisco 49ers
Mike Shumann, WR About a year after winning it, Shumann was on a plane back to alma mater Florida State when he nearly dropped the ring down a bathroom sink. "Being a wide receiver, I had the quick hands still," Shumann said. "The best catch I ever made." Years later, while broadcasting for the ABC affiliate in the Bay Area, he went to In-N-Out Burger while heading back from 49ers training camp. The greasy burger sent Shumann to the bathroom to wash his hands, where he left the ring on the sink. Shumann realized it about halfway home and called the restaurant. It had been found by an employee. He returned with an autographed football, tickets to a game and $100 for the worker who found it. "Those are the two moments for me that were just ultimate panic," Shumann said. "Unless I absolutely have to, I don't travel with it any longer."
Super Bowl XVII 1982: Washington
Alvin Garrett, WR In 1989, Garrett decided his Super Bowl ring held no value to him and could help fund his desire to become a minister. He took out an ad in the Washington Post and sold the ring. "I flew to La Guardia in New York and the guy paid me cash for it," Garrett said. "My life was so screwed up I needed God." In 2016, someone who worked in the jewelry business in New York was picking through a box of items. They found Garrett's damaged ring with the diamonds missing. They contacted the Washington Football Team, who located Garrett, living in Huntsville, Alabama. The ring was restored and, Garrett said, "You can't tell the difference." He now keeps it stored away. But he's thankful. "It was like a miracle," he said. "It blew me away. I'm serious. Thirty years man and the circle comes back to you."
Super Bowl XVIII 1983: Los Angeles Raiders
Marcus Allen, RB The Super Bowl XVIII MVP's ring keeps great company, the bauble kept in a fine wood box along with his Pro Football Hall of Fame, his USC national championship, and his Heisman rings, among other hardware. Yes, the 1982 NFL rookie of the year/1985 NFL MVP/1993 NFL comeback player of the year may very well be the most decorated football player in history. And while his hands are so mangled from years of carrying the ball that his rings cannot fit over his knuckles, it is the Super Bowl ring that carries so much significance. "It represents the incredible journey it took to get to that moment and how all the sacrifice is worth it when you're champion, the challenges we went through that season and the relationships that were built," Allen said. "I will always remember that locker room. A lot of people remember the run but when I look at my ring, two names immediately come to mind — Todd Christensen and Lyle Alzado. I think of Tom Flores and Greg Pruitt. I think of my mom and dad and the moments before and after that game."
Super Bowl XIX 1984: San Francisco 49ers
Roger Craig, RB "I don't like showboating my rings," Craig said. "I'm not a flashy guy. I don't like to be like Liberace or something." Craig keeps his rings, including his first, from Super Bowl XIX, locked away in a safe but has had it written in his will that each of his five children will receive a ring of significance. His first three children will each get a Super Bowl ring, his fourth will get his 1980s NFL All Decade team ring and his fifth child will get the ring he covets but hasn't yet received: his Hall of Fame ring. "I just want them all to have something special from Pops."
Super Bowl XX 1985: Chicago Bears
Steve McMichael, DT "Baby, let me tell you about the night we got our Super Bowl rings. You think it'd be glorious, right? The 49ers got to get their rings in Honolulu, Hawaii...so I'm thinking, 'Well, this is going to be a big-time thing.' I get the news we are having the ring ceremony at the Holiday Inn in Highwood, Illinois. ... I show up at the dinner and [Bears coach] Mike Ditka is already half in the bag. We're sitting there waiting to get the rings and before we get the ring, he's already passed out in his plate of food sitting at the table with the McCaskeys. They start giving the rings out and I look at it — and it's a nice ring, diamonds and gold. But I heard the NFL allocates $4,000 per ring, and the owners can put more money into it to make it nicer. How much do you think that ring cost the Bears? $4,000."
Super Bowl XXI 1986: New York Giants
Bobby Johnson, WR Addicted to crack cocaine, homeless and in need of a fix, Johnson sold his Super Bowl XXI ring. "I actually asked the man what he could give me for it," Johnson said in a 2016 ESPN story. "He offered me $1,000. I said no because I knew I wasn't going to be able to come back and pay it. Finally, he got down to $250. I said, 'I'll take it.'" The story has a happy ending. Johnson got sober and he got his ring back — thanks to the help of former coach Bill Parcells and New York businessman Lee Einsidler — during an alumni weekend event.
Super Bowl XXII 1987: Washington
Doug Williams, QB As the the first African American quarterback to start — and win — the Super Bowl, the ring signifies so much for Williams. "You open the case and it's realizing what I had been through and things I had overcome," Williams said. He rarely wears the ring, but plans to hand it down one day. When he does wear it, he said: "They all want to touch it; they all want to put their hands around it and they all say, 'Wow, what a great day. Man I prayed for you. It's bringing back memories for them because it was such a history-making day. The people from where I grew up, it's almost like they wear that ring. That day will never happen again in the history of football; there will never be another first African American quarterback to win."
Super Bowl XXIII 1988: San Francisco 49ers
Jesse Sapolu, OL It's the only game that was close. That's why Sapolu values and wears semi-regularly the Super Bowl XXIII ring. "My other three Super Bowls were kind of blowouts," Sapolu said. "This one we had to drive the ball 92 yards to win it at the end of the game.That's when you find out a lot about yourself." Sapolu's love for that particular ring didn't prevent him from nearly losing it, though. He doesn't remember the exact date but six or seven years ago Sapolu was in Hawaii working with the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame. He got on an early flight to head home and his heart sank when he discovered he'd left it at his hotel. "I realized it on the plane," Sapolu said. "That was the painful thing. It was five-hour flight and the whole time I was just worried sick about it. Things were just going through my mind about how hard it was to win that ring and here I am and I might lose it for good. Thoughts of how do I say to the 49ers if I can order another ring or how does the process work and all of those thoughts. I suffered on that flight because you can't reach anybody." The story has a happy ending, though, as a maid found the ring and the hotel shipped it back to Sapolu, who still wears it to team events to this day.
Super Bowl XXIV 1989: San Francisco 49ers
Steve Bono, QB Signed as what he calls an "expensive insurance policy" behind Joe Montana, Bono and his teammates' best Super Bowl ring story is as much about how they received them as it is anything that happened after. At the peak of his team's dynasty, former owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. wasn't fond of standard ring ceremonies. Instead, he flew the entire team and their families to Kauai for the biggest, fanciest party you could imagine. "It was typical Mr. DeBartolo fashion," Bono said. "It was extravagant." In addition to the rings, DeBartolo gave all of the players spending money, which Bono said never got spent because DeBartolo paid for everything. The four-night stay included plenty of golf, top-shelf meals and entertainment provided by Huey Lewis and the News. The hardest part? Getting the ring safely back to the mainland. "I put it on and didn't take it off until I got home," Bono said.
Super Bowl XXV 1990: New York Giants
Lawrence Taylor, LB An East Coast collector bought Taylor's ring as part of a collection of championship rings from various sports in a 2012 auction. The sale price — $230,401 — is the highest known price paid for a Super Bowl ring from a player. "It's Super Bowl. It's New York Giants," SCP Auctions president David Kohler said. "And then when it came to Lawrence Taylor, he was the most prominent player on the team. He's LT." Taylor originally gifted the ring to his son TJ, who later decided to sell it. Rumor had it that it had been purchased by Charlie Sheen. That turned out to be false. Instead the most expensive Super Bowl ring ever is part of a collection.
Super Bowl XXVI 1991: Washington
Brian Mitchell, RB A limo, a night on the town and cold weather. It was not a good combination for Mitchell and it nearly led to him losing his Super Bowl ring for good back in 2000. After going out drinking, Mitchell woke up the next morning without his ring. "When it's real cold, your fingers seem smaller," he said. That's why he guessed: Maybe it's still in the limousine. He called the driver who opened the door and found it stuck in the door jamb. "I was like, 'Ohhhh,'" Mitchell said. "But, dude, that's why I don't wear it as much now and, definitely, when I'm going out and hanging with my boys, I don't wear it."
Super Bowl XXVII 1992: Dallas Cowboys
Daryl Johnston, FB The only ring that fits Johnston is from Super Bowl XXX. "I don't know what's happened to my knuckles on my fingers," he said. Johnston grew up outside Buffalo, so he doesn't wear rings from Super Bowl XXVII or XXVIII — wins over the Bills when he goes home — even though Super Bowl XXVII is his favorite. "It's understated but it's very, very well crafted," Johnston said. "It's got a star-cut diamond, which at the time had never been done before, so that's my favorite one. It doesn't grab your attention. It looks like a nice class ring, like a larger class ring. Thirty is heavy. It's big. But they put a lot of history of the franchise as part of the design of the ring so it got big because of what the Cowboys accomplished through their history."
Super Bowl XXVIII 1993: Dallas Cowboys
Darren Woodson, S When Woodson does a speaking engagement, he has his three Super Bowl rings connected to a chain and passes them to the crowd. "I tell them I'm the all-time leading tackler for the Dallas Cowboys and I have one more tackle left in me if you try to break for the door," Woodson said. His favorite is the ring from Super Bowl XXVIII, which features four marquee diamonds — for the four Super Bowl wins — surrounded by 40 small round diamonds. "The Joneses weren't holding back," Woodson said. "It was, 'We're back-to-back champs,' and the boldness of that ring is what stood out." So much so Woodson's oldest son, D.J., has already called dibs on it. He likes the size of the diamonds and it's just a big, tall ring," Woodson said. "It's not just flat. It's a tall ring. It's built differently and the diamonds are sticking up."
Super Bowl XXIX 1994: San Francisco 49ers
Dennis Brown, DE When Brown and his ex-wife Danielle divorced in 1999, they agreed to pass the Super Bowl ring they'd earned to son Derrick and daughter Darienne. Brown didn't see the ring again until he was working as a part of the 49ers' broadcasting team when the team got back to the Super Bowl in 2013. The team invited Derrick and Darienne to New Orleans for the game. At a dinner beforehand, Brown looked over to see Darienne wearing the ring. "It was kind of cool because this was my grown son and grown daughter at a Super Bowl wearing my ring," Brown said. "They didn't win that Super Bowl but it was like a full circle." Derrick and Darienne intend to make the ring a family heirloom, passing it down for generations and wearing it at their biggest life events, like weddings... or Super Bowls.
Super Bowl XXX 1995: Dallas Cowboys
Nate Newton, G "Not one. Not two, but three. I got three," Newton likes to say, paraphrasing LeBron James' introduction with the Miami Heat. Newton's third ring, from Super Bowl XXX, was bigger — 81 diamonds and five carets — than the rings from Super Bowl XXVII and XXVIII. "I don't think mine fits now, it's so big. Everybody tried to order a ring size up to make sure they were huge." Newton thinks the Cowboys' Super Bowl XXX started the trend of the oversized ring. "Super Bowl rings have always been admired but the way Jerry did it, it made the owners take off too. Like him building a stadium made the others take off on stadiums. Our rings might not be more valuable per dollars than the other guys, but we've got the most highly valued of them since we started it and we are not done. Because of what that name means, if we get another one, boy, that will be the glory days again."
Super Bowl XXXI 1996: Green Bay Packers
LeRoy Butler, S "I just hoped it was in the shape of a G," said Butler, the All-Pro safety said. "That G means something to me, obviously Green Bay, but it means greatness and after 30 years of not being in the Super Bowl, we wanted it to be special. When I heard it was a G I was elated, I really was." Butler rarely wears his ring and he says he has a good reason. One of his teammates left his ring at an airport security checkpoint and was lucky to get it back. "That story freaked out a lot of people," Butler said.
Super Bowl XXXII 1997: Denver Broncos
Mike Shanahan, Coach Hundreds of folks have had the chance to try on the ring, according to Shanahan, who said he "never" wears them. He keeps them in a display case at his suburban Denver restaurant. "... When I look at that first one ... I see what it takes. You can go through the years and go through the list of people who've played and coached in the National Football League, great players, great coaches, and they don't have one. They don't hand them out for one good effort. You look at it and see skill, luck, big-time plays in big-time moments, but you see the attention to detail and that you have to be a team with that attention to detail, everybody top to bottom, or you're not going to get one. And looking back, when you don't get one and you think you might have had a chance, that is always the difference."
Super Bowl XXXIII 1998: Denver Broncos
Rod Smith, WR When speaking at events, Smith usually carries his two Super Bowl rings in a bag. "I've let people wear them when I go to events or speak to groups because people love those things. But I was a family reunion in St. Louis, maybe 10 years ago ... one night I put it in the drawer of the night stand in my room at the hotel, right next to the Bible in there." Smith left the hotel with the ring still in the drawer. A 10-year-old boy, staying in the room with his family, found it and alerted the Broncos and got it back to Smith. "They never wanted anything. They didn't even want an autograph. The dad just said 'We just want to get it to the rightful owner and we just want him to do the right thing.' That's just amazing, that just blew me away. It always will."
Super Bowl XXXIV 1999: St Louis Rams
D'Marco Farr, DT "I remember walking into the Ritz Carlton [to receive the rings] ... Robert Wuhl, the guy that did Arli$$ on HBO, is our emcee, so he's going through the whole spiel, and I'm kind of listening, but kind of not, because we're half drunk and getting drunker as the night goes on. As a matter of fact, one of my teammates, who I won't name, was right behind me and he went from sitting upright to leaning, to on the ground before Robert Wuhl finished the whole spiel, and then he threw up on my shoe. So we got the rings, it was awesome, we opened them up, and it was like 'Wow, here it is.' You won, this is official, it's solid and they can never take that away. We finished that ceremony around 9 p.m., and by midnight, that was the only thing I had on."
Super Bowl XXXV 2000: Baltimore Ravens
Art Modell, Owner It took 40 years, but Modell won his first Super Bowl as an owner against the New Giants. "But nobody can ever remember him wearing his ring," said Kevin Byrne, the Ravens senior vice president of public relations. "He just wasn't a ring person." After Modell died in 2012, his family decided to keep his ring alongside the Vince Lombardi Trophy in a unique arrangement. Every two years, that ring and trophy goes back and forth between his son John Modell and Michel Modell, the wife of the late David Modell.
Super Bowl XXXVI 2001: New England Patriots
Jerod Cherry, DB Seeing "humanity at its best," at a youth conference in 2008, the three-time Super Bowl champion decided to raffle off his prized possession to help those in need. Cherry's selfless gesture, parting with the 2.61-carat ring featuring 142 diamonds, helped generate $180,000, which went to charities such as Boston for Africa, Feed My Starving Children and Asia's Hope, a Christian organization that builds homes and provides educational opportunities, food and medical care for orphaned children in Thailand, Cambodia and India.
Super Bowl XXXVII 2002: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Shelton Quarles, LB At least 1,000 fans have tried on the ring, according to Quarles. "I meet people at gas stations, car washes, grocery store — wherever," said Quarles, who was with the team for 10 seasons. "... To this day, I still have people who tried it on the year after we won the Super Bowl and they'll show me pictures." He nearly lost it once during a visit to a local prison for ministry in 2003. He let a group of inmates try it on. "We were just about to leave, and [one of the inmates] started running towards me, and one of the prison guards was chasing him," Quarles recalled. "And I'm like, 'What's going on here?' ... He actually ran me down as I was trying to leave to make sure he returned my ring to me."
Super Bowl XXXVIII 2003: New England Patriots
Matt Chatham, LB The three-time Super Bowl-winning linebacker/special teamer had a "terrifying experience" with his second ring, which was bigger than his first ring. He took the ring with him to his hometown of Sioux City, Iowa. While driving his rental car back to the airport, he took the ring off, to relieve his swollen hands, and put it in his lap. "I spaced out and as I arrived at the Omaha (Nebraska) airport, I stepped out of the vehicle to get my bags, and as I stand up, the ring hits the concrete. It was so heavy that it bounced almost waist high. It was a multiple 'Bing! Bing! Bing!' down the road. ... Amazingly, after that scare, all the diamonds held. But it was a moment of terror. After a trip in which you're telling everyone else to treat the ring with care, you're the one who overlooks it."
Super Bowl XXXIX 2004: New England Patriots
Christian Fauria, TE The two-time Super Bowl winning tight end usually kept his rings in the original box. A few years ago, however, there was an extended stretch where Fauria couldn't find them. "It was weird, because I wasn't really panicking, and I knew I didn't lose them. But I didn't know where I put them," he recalled. "... Somebody asked me to borrow a pen, and I bring the same backpack to work every day. I go into this little pouch that I didn't even know was there. Sure enough, both rings were there in this little pouch that I had been carrying around with for the last year. I was on the air when it happened and I was like 'No wonder my backpack was so damn heavy!'"
Super Bowl XL 2005: Pittsburgh Steelers
Bill Cowher, Coach After retiring from coaching following the 2006 season, Cowher went on two USO Tours in 2009 and '12. He brought his Super Bowl ring along, but it almost didn't make it back from the '09 tour in Iraq. Cowher let service members try it on and pose for pictures, but it got stuck on a man's finger in Baghdad. "He put it on and he couldn't get it off. I'm thinking, 'OK, this is not good,'" Cowher said. "You are sitting here in Baghdad, Iraq and I'm like, 'We need to get this off.' You get a little bit of grease and everything else." The ring eventually came off, but after that, Cowher kept a closer eye on it. If the ring didn't slide over the middle knuckle with ease, he advised folks to not force it. "It was amazing how much that lifted our soldiers over there," Cowher said. "It meant a lot to them."
Super Bowl XLI 2006: Indianapolis Colts
Gary Brackett, LB Losing weight cost Brackett some diamonds from his Super Bowl XLI ring. Brackett put his ring inside his tuxedo jacket because it kept slipping off his finger while he danced at a 2014 charity event. It wasn't until several days later the linebacker realized he misplaced his ring. "It's one of those feelings where my stomach was empty," Brackett said. "You're saying, 'Oh my god. Did I lose it? Did it drop out my pocket? Did I put it in my pocket? Did it fall off?' My mind was playing tricks on me." Nearly a week later an employee from the dry cleaners called to let him know they found his Super Bowl ring in his jacket pocket. Shortly after picking it up, Brackett noticed there were a couple of diamonds missing. Insurance would have covered replacing the diamonds but Brackett decided against it. "I kind of like the missing diamonds because it's significant of the struggles and pains that you went through in winning the Super Bowl," he said. "The Super Bowl wasn't perfect, so I feel like every time I look at the ring and see it beat up, I put a smile on my face because that's what it took to get there and win it."
Super Bowl XLII 2007: New York Giants
Eli Manning, QB As part of a group, which included ownership, coach Tom Coughlin, receiver Amani Toomer and offensive lineman Shaun O'Hara, Super Bowl XLII MVP Eli Manning helped design the ring. Manning remembers they were all set with a classic design, something that wasn't too big and could be worn around. But then defensive end Michael Strahan showed up to give his opinion. "All I care about is I want a 10-table ring!" Strahan said. Nobody knew what that meant. Strahan explained when he went into a restaurant, he wanted the ring to be seen from 10 tables away. "We kind of threw out everything we'd done and started over." Manning said. Strahan's final version, a 1.72 carat ring, was all about size and was significantly bigger than what they originally agreed upon.
Super Bowl XLIII 2008: Pittsburgh Steelers
Hines Ward, WR Before Super Bowl XLIII was even played, Ward had a vision of the team's sixth ring. As the senior member of the Steelers that season, Ward was in charge of the design. Before departing for the game, Ward sketched a picture. With six massive diamonds surrounding the Steelers logo, this ring would have more bling than the one designed by Jerome Bettis for Super Bowl XL. As he boarded the charter plane to the game, Ward placed the sketch in team owner Dan Rooney's lap. "Mr. Rooney, when we win this one, we've got to make sure people on the other side of the room see the ring that we're wearing," Ward said. "It's got to stand out." A week later, Ward's ring came to life. "You can see mine is a little bit bigger than Jerome's," Ward said. "... Every time I get around Jerome, I always wear the bigger one, just to rub it in his face a little bit."
Super Bowl XLIV 2009: New Orleans Saints
Lance Moore, WR For one day at least, Moore actually had two Super Bowl rings. The original was stolen from his home in Ohio while he was at training camp (hidden it in his sock drawer). Fortunately he had insurance and had a replica made. His ring was later found at an auction house in New York after it had gone from a pawn shop to a seized storage unit, though police never found out who stole it. The insurance company told Moore he could either pay for the replica or send one back. He sent back the original. "Just the fact that it had been stolen and changed hands as many times as it had, I didn't want it," said Moore, who said he never found out what the insurance company did with it. But, "I haven't heard of anybody else owning a Lance Moore Super Bowl ring."
Super Bowl XLV 2010: Green Bay Packers
Charles Woodson, DB After winning the NFC Championship, Woodson told his teammates: "For two weeks, think about one. Let's be one mind. Let's be one heartbeat. One purpose. One goal. One more game. One. Let's get it." It's why the number "1" along with the words "mind," "goal," "purpose" and "heart" are inside each ring. "You see that '1' and the words, and it was like, 'Wow,' you're floored," Woodson said. "When you talk to the team in any capacity, you never know what's going to stick. You try to say something that guys can kind of grab on to. For that to be inscribed on the ring told me that it meant something not only to the players but to the coaches. Now, there's something that we can actually hold onto forever."
Super Bowl XLVI 2011: New York Giants
Chris Canty, DE The night before the Giants played the Jets in a must-win game on Christmas Eve, a motivational speaker came in an told the team they had to be "all-in." The speaker even gave them a poker chip to symbolize the commitment. "That became our rallying cry for the rest of the season," Canty said. The Giants beat the Jets, won the following week and went on a magical run to win the Super Bowl. At the wild-card game, the slogan "all-in" was on the towels given to fans and it's also inscribed inside of the ring. As for that poker chip, Canty keeps it in the box he got for the Super Bowl ring.
Super Bowl XLVII 2012: Baltimore Ravens
Cam Cameron, OC Two months before the team celebrated its Super Bowl win, Cameron was fired as the Ravens offensive coordinator in December 2012. But after the season, Cameron received a call from team officials asking for his ring size. After being with the Ravens for almost four seasons, he was appreciative of the gesture, and he followed through on a promise to give his first Super Bowl ring to his 92-year-old father. "I think he's afraid to wear because he's afraid someone will bop him over the head and steal it," Cameron said.
Super Bowl XLVIII 2013: Seattle Seahawks
Derrick Coleman, FB After Coleman lost it, his ring took an interesting and serendipitous road back to him. He left the ring in a rental car in Los Angeles. Then a teammate's agent, David Mulugheta, came across the Tiffany and Co. box in the same rental car. Mulugheta's wife thought it was a gift for her until opening the box. Once they figured it out, Mulugheta gave it to Earl Thomas who returned it to Coleman. "For a quick second I was like, 'hey man, this might be a real cool fantasy football trophy' ... but I wouldn't," Mulugheta said. "I know how much that means to guys, so that was never a thought."
Super Bowl XLIX 2014: New England Patriots
Matthew Slater, ST The ring might mean more to Slater because football is part of his family's foundation. His father, Jackie, played for the Rams and is in Pro Football Hall of Fame. "He played for 20 years, making it to one Super Bowl and losing it, and never getting back, I know that was the biggest regret of his career. So I felt like, in a strange way, it was a Slater finally being a Super Bowl champion after 27 years in the NFL combined — and to share that moment with my dad meant a lot to me." It was the Patriots' first Super Bowl win in a decade, and Slater said: "It was emotional for a lot of us who had been here for a while, just to feel like we finally had a seat at the table, because it felt like we would never measure up."
Super Bowl 50 2015: Denver Broncos
Ryan Harris, OT After four seasons in Denver, two in Houston and one with the Chiefs, Harris re-signed with the Broncos and started every game of the 2015 season. "I got it sized for my middle finger ... You know, the offensive line, leading up to Super Bowl 50, nobody respected us, nobody felt like we would be able to impact the game. ... So, we were getting the rings sized and I was sitting with some of the linemen, and I said 'Let's get it sized for the middle finger.' I think about 'This one's for Pat,' in the inscription ... some of the things coaches told me about the limits of my development ... about the Chiefs, who told me I had no football left, the year before I played for a Super Bowl win. And it is so fun to put that on and let it dangle."
Super Bowl LI 2016: New England Patriots
Justin Coleman, CB When the Patriots put on these rings for the first time, they started high-fiving, which became fist-bumps. Then Coleman heard the clink. Later that night, when he started looking at his name and number on the ring along with staring at every diamond he noticed something was off. That clink? It was really his brand new ring getting chipped. "I figured out that diamonds chipped diamonds easily," said Coleman, who had the ring repaired. "It's just everything else that don't chip diamonds that easily. But other diamonds do. I'll never fist-pound anyone else with that ring."
Super Bowl LII 2017: Philadelphia Eagles
Jon Dorenbos, LS Traded prior to the start of the 2017 season, Dorenbos had been the Eagles' longest-tenured player and a favorite in the organization. A subsequent medical exam revealed Dorenbos had an aortic aneurysm which required heart surgery and ultimately ended his career. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie included Dorenbos in the Super Bowl LII by inviting him to be in the locker room following win and giving him a ring. "What he did for this community here in Philadelphia, how he represented himself here, even the time we were competing; just such a great mentor," said long snapper Rick Lovato, who succeeded Dorenbos in Philly. "He definitely deserved it, especially after everything that has happened to him, his heart condition. It's crazy everything that happened and we're just thankful that he's alive and that he could be around for that Super Bowl."
Super Bowl LIII 2018: New England Patriots
Kenjon Barner, RB Playing five games for the Patriots, and having been released and re-signed three different times, Barner wasn't a major contributor in the championship season (19 carries, 71 yards) and hadn't been with the club since mid-November. So imagine his surprise when he received a text message from an unknown number during 2019 spring practices with the Atlanta Falcons, saying Bill Belichick wanted him to have a ring. "I was like, 'Is this a mistake? Do you have the right number?' I was speechless," Barner said. "They didn't have to do that." Barner let his father, Gary, open the ring when it arrived and he gifted it to his dad as a thank you for his support.
Super Bowl LIV 2019: Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes, QB In normal times, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes would have had his Super Bowl LIV championship ring on a tour of its own. But because of pandemic, he's mostly kept it under lock and key. "I haven't got to show it off much," the Super Bowl LIV MVP said. "The only people I've really got to show it to is my family, to my mom and dad with them coming up to a couple of the games. Obviously with the COVID pandemic going on, I haven't been able to have a lot of the people up that come every single year. I haven't been able to show them the ring. Hopefully we can get through this and I can show all my friends and family."
Super Bowl LV 2020: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Lavonte David, LB The longtime Bucs captain waited nine seasons to play in the postseason. David's Super Bowl ring -- which was won at Raymond James Stadium and features the field under a top that opens -- represents more than the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. It's a reminder of some of his final memories with his father, Edward Nelson, who died of liver cancer in June 2021. "That was really tough for me," said David, whose mother, Lynette David, died in 2016. "Everything was so high, and then all a sudden, life just turned around. The good thing is, he loved watching me play football. He was there for me every step of the way since I was in Little League, at every game and at every practice. My joy is coming out here, knowing he helped me get to this point." As soon as the confetti started to fall, David said, 'Where's my daddy at?' The two shared a long embrace. "I just wanted to enjoy that moment with him."
Super Bowl LVI 2021: Los Angeles Rams
Van Jefferson, WR The night the Rams won the Super Bowl was special for wide receiver Van Jefferson not only because of what he and his team accomplished on their home field, but what happened after the game. During Super Bowl LVI, Jefferson's wife Samaria went into labor at SoFi Stadium, something Jefferson didn't know until after the Rams had won. On his way to the hospital, Jefferson watched over FaceTime as Samaria gave birth to their son, Champ. Jefferson said his Super Bowl ring is even more meaningful because of his son's birth. "When I look at it, I think of my son, and I think of us winning," he said.
ESPN NFL reporters Todd Archer, Sarah Barshop, Rich Cimini, Rob Demovsky, Jeff Dickerson, Jeremy Fowler, Paul Gutierrez, Brady Henderson, Jamison Hensley, John Keim, Jenna Laine, Jeff Legwold, Tim McManus, Ian O'Connor, Brooke Pryor, Jordan Ranaan, Mike Reiss, Michael Rothstein, Adam Teicher, Lindsey Thiry, Mike Triplett, Nick Wagoner, Mike Wells, Cameron Wolfe contributed. Super Bowl rings courtesy of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.