by Jonathan Miller - 09/17/2005
Diamonds are a guru's best friend.
Check out New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick. His 2005 Super Bowl ring features 124 diamonds and weighs a quarter-pound (cheese on that?). It's rumored that the bling is worth more than my yearly earnings-well, that's actually not very impressive. Still, at a going rate of more than $20,000, Big Bill is living large.
You should have seen the guy at the ESPY Awards this year. Belichick sported all three of his bling machines: the '02, '04 and '05 championship rings, and he closely resembled a 1980s Michael Jackson wearing the trademark glittering sparkle glove. When Belichick clapped his hands, the flashing lights were so intense that some viewers were rumored to go into epileptic seizure.
But that's what the Super Bowl ring is all about: dazzling others. Wearing one means that for at least one season, you were bigger and badder than the rest. Frankly, with 124 diamonds on your ring finger, you can jump around and bang your chest like a gorilla if you want-you've earned it.
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Pats' owner Bob Kraft was recently caught banging his chest with Russian President Vladimir Putin, and paid for it. At a recent Boston meeting for prominent businessmen, Kraft was showing off his '05 championship ring to Putin and handed it over for a closer look. Putin apparently misunderstood the gesture and took the ring to be a gift. The former KGB spy pocketed it faster than Cold War microfilm.
Kraft later told the Boston Globe that he gave the ring to Putin "as a symbol of the respect and admiration that I have for the Russian people and the leadership of President Putin."
Sure Bob. Not even Tom Brady breaking a leg in a freak skydiving accident could give Kraft a more agonizing facial expression than the one captured by The Globe as Putin took the ring. 124 diamonds? That's slightly more valuable than the original Super Bowl ring.
The first Super Bowl ring dates back all the way to, you guessed it, the first Super Bowl. In Super Bowl I, the Green Bay Packers took home the first ring, created by Jostens, the company that also designed the Pats' latest hardware.
Jostens tops the list of ring designers with a total of 26 Super Bowl Rings, and also has the distinction of designing ugly class rings the nation over.
Balfour comes in second, which is best known as the designers of the all-important championship rings of the Japanese professional baseball league.
Last on the totem pole of Super Bowl ring designers is Diamond Cutters International, which made the 1996 Dallas Cowboy championship ring, as well as the timeless 1995 Baltimore Stallions Canadian Football League championship ring. That was a beauty that sports fans will not, um, soon forget.
Annually, these companies duke it out for the honor of creating the latest Super Bowl ring. The NFL pays $5,000 per ring for up to 150 rings for the world champions every year. In the last decade, however, prices have skyrocketed as each Super Bowl winner tries to outdo the last with a more outrageous ring design. As a result, the ring companies are footing the rest of the bill after the NFL's initial $5,000 offering. The recipients of these super-rings don't seem to mind.
Some Super Bowl ring facts for you: Matt Milan is the only player with Super Bowl rings with three different teams: the Raiders, the 49ers and the Redskins. Charles Haley has a record five Super Bowl rings from his championship days with the 49ers and Cowboys. His could be the most expensive hand in all of sports.
Only time will tell what the ring companies are designing for the winner, come Feb. 5, 2006, but the ring will surely be bigger and better than the last. But whichever team wins, the future is bright.