The first focus of things this year, of course, is which team and which players earn a Super Bowl ring on February 5. When we know that, though, there is a chance that some history will be made. Both a coach and a player have the chance to sit atop the peak of Super Bowl achievement.
The king of Super Bowl rings among players is bad boy, and 2015 hall of famer, Charles Haley. The unlikeable defensive star won two titles with the 49ers but then was chased out of town after clashing with Steve Young. He landed on his feet, though - he went to Dallas and won himself three more titles. So, his five titles stand alone as the most Super Bowl rings by a player. But he could have company as soon as this year. Tom Brady, of course, has won four rings - three in four years earlier in his career and then again in 2015. And now he is favored to win a fifth.
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Brady's head coach is more decorated, and also has a chance to make history of his own. The owner of the most rings overall is someone you likely wouldn't guess. Neal Dahlen worked in the front office in player personnel roles for the Niners from 1982 to 1995, so he won himself five rings there. Then he became the general manager of the Broncos and earned two more rings with John Elway and company. Seven rings. Wow. Bill Belichick is knocking on the door, though. He obviously has the four titles he won with Brady and the Patriots. He also won it all in January of 1987 and 1991 when he was the defensive coordinator of the Giants. So, he has six rings and is favored to win seven. There is added expense for Belichick if he wins another ring, though. In 2015 he bought a boat and named it "Six Rings". He'd either need to change the name or buy a bigger boat after this title.
Belichick can make history in another way, too. He is currently tied with Chuck Noll for the most titles by a head coach with four, so he could gain that mantle alone.
Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is another Patriot who can separate himself from the pack with a title. He has been aboard for all four titles of the Belichick era, though in a different role each time. He was first a personnel assistant, then a defensive coaching assistant before becoming QB coach and then offensive coordinator. With another win McDaniels could join another former New England assistant, Romeo Crennel, atop the list for assistant coaches. Crennel was long attached to Belichick, winning the two titles with New York and the first three with New England before his rough move into head coaching.
The Falcons' players are certainly not going to threaten any of these records. In fact, they can't match Brady alone if you add all of the rings on the active roster up. Dwight Freeney won with the Colts, and Courtney Upshaw won as a rookie with the Ravens. And that's the list. Head coach Dan Quinn helps to make up for that lack of experience, though - he won once as defensive coordinator for the Seahawks and was with them when they lost to the Patriots the next year. GM Thomas Dimitroff has two rings from his time as director of college scouting for the Patriots, and assistant GM Scott Pioli was in charge of player personnel for three New England wins.
Not surprisingly, New England has a significant edge in Super Bowl winning experience. Brady is the only guy one the team who has been around for more than one title, but 21 currently active players aside from Brady were also on the team for the last title. The Falcons do have an edge in one aspect, though - the Patriots currently don't have an active player who has won a title with another team.
While Brady is trying for his fifth ring, he is currently one of 38 players with four rings. Only two of those players are active - the other is the ageless Adam Vinatieri, who won his first three in New England. The most interesting fact to me is that 22 of those 38 players earned them with the Steelers in the 1970s. Just imagine a team now trying to keep that many guys together through four wins with free agency being what it is. Six other guys won their four with Joe Montana in San Francisco. And then there is Matt Millen, the world's most annoying commentator and world's worst GM, who won his four titles with four different teams.
The guy we should finish off with is Willie Davis. He was a defensive end with the Browns and the Packers from 1958 to 1969. In that time he won two Super Bowls and three more NFL championships before there was a Super Bowl. Then he went into management with the Packers and won two more Super Bowls. So that gives him four rings and seven titles overall - tying him, sort of, with Dahlen, for most titles and with Haley for most titles as a player.
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