” … and a Big Ring!”

The above is the final four words in a pre-game speech given by then Washington Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann. Trying to inspire his troops before they took the field for Super Bowl XVII, he laid out the stakes in as simple terms as possible.

“This game is worth $70,000 and a big ring!”.

That is what the Super Bowl means to the players. Yes, the Lombardi trophy is what the winning team brings home but long after the trophy is in the possession of the team and the money is spent, all that remains is the ring.

There is no ring quite like the Super Bowl ring: from what it represents to what it has become, the ring is the symbol of both success and excess in professional sports. I have worn the Steelers first Super Bowl ring and its not that much bigger than my college ring. Tonight, I saw the latest Super Bowl ring … and it dwarfs what the fabled “One for the Thumb”.

sb 43 rungA local jeweler told me today’s Super Bowl rings are like having a trophy on your finger – even for the largest of players. The league usually covers $5000 per ring, but many franchises will spend four to five times that on this championship symbol. This year, the Steelers went over the limit … and the result is a ring that left the players I spoke with tonight speechless.

From Charlie Batch to Santonio Holmes to Ryan Clark, each Steeler I spoke with following tonight’s ring ceremony struggled to find the words. They even struggled deciding what they would do with it after they wore it tonight. Many said they would savor it for the next few months, then put it away when the season began.

Maybe its meant to be this way. Such a large ring and such a gaudy symbol of success is not meant to be worn every day. Its meant for special occasions and memorable moments. It’s a symbol of a once-in-a-lifetime achievement ( at least for some teams ). Maybe it should be worn just as frugally.

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