Super Bowl LIV is upon us, with festivities occurring in Miami all week leading up to the big game Sunday. One of the primary preparations happening behind the scenes happens every year: the making of the Super Bowl rings.
Jostens jewelry company has crafted the great majority of Super Bowl rings over time, making 35 of 53 sets of rings for the big game so far. Each team has a big hand in designing their own rings, and the rings are not designed until the victor has been decided.
First, a Bit of Background…
The winner of each Super Bowl has always gotten a ring — legendary Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi helped design the very first one. There have been some changes over the years, however. While a ceremony is held now, usually in the summer, in which each team gets its rings, that wasn’t always the case. After their win in Super Bowl IV, the Chiefs received their rings in the mail, according to their legendary kicker Jan Stenerud.
Things didn’t evolve too much in the 1980s, at least for some teams. Member of the famed 1985 Chicago Bears team Steve McMichael has a less-than-flattering recollection of receiving his ring, as well as the cost that went into it. According to McMichael, his former coach got a little intoxicated at the ceremony.
“Mike Ditka is already half in the bag,” McMichael said. “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.”
Things got better by the end of the decade, at least for the San Francisco 49ers. When the 49ers won the Super Bowl after the 1989 season, then-owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. flew the entire team to Hawaii for an elaborate party and ceremony while handing out their rings there.
Super Bowl Rings: How Much Do They Cost?
The NFL contributes $5,000 for each Super Bowl ring, and each team foots the bill for the costs after that point. Each set of rings is valued at approximately $5 million dollars, and the amount of rings made differs with each team. “Anywhere from 300 to 900 rings are produced, depending on the size of the organization and how many the owners decide they want to give,” Chris Poitras, VP of Jostens said.
Each ring takes around eight weeks to design, and it takes 4-6 weeks to make them. Some teams make different and less extravagant rings for different members of the organization, but some teams give the same rings to every single person.
Fun Facts About Super Bowl Rings
*The largest Super Bowl ring for an individual ever was made for a member of the legendary 1985 Chicago bears team: William “Refrigerator” Perry. His size 25 band required multiple machines to construct, Jostens has said. The largest team ring was made just last year for the Patriots, whose sixth Super Bowl ring was 10-karat gold, with 400 diamonds and 40 sapphires in each ring.
*The 1972 Miami Dolphins, the only team to go undefeated in NFL history, have 17 diamonds on their Super Bowl winning rings from that season, which represent their record of 17-0 that year.
*Former New York Giants wide receiver Bobby Johnson sold his Super Bowl XXI ring during a difficult time when he was battling addiction. Johnson sold it for $250, but he did end up getting it back later on in life. Nearly 30 years after he helped the Giants win the Super Bowl, his former coach Bill Parcells, and New York businessman Lee Einsidler, a sports fan who found himself moved by Johnson’s story and subsequent recovery, worked together to find and return Johnson’s Super Bowl ring to him. “I just couldn’t believe it. It was like a dream. It really was,” Johnson said after receiving his ring again. “I just remember putting it on and crying. For five to 10 minutes, that’s all I remember.”
*Current Patriots owner Robert Kraft initially said he gave one of his Super Bowl rings to Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2005, but in 2013, Kraft changed his story he was asked by the White House at the time to say that — “I took out the ring and showed it to [Putin], and he put it on and he goes, ‘I can kill someone with this ring,'” Kraft said in 2013, according to the New York Post. “I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out.”
Putin has since refuted Kraft’s claim. “What Mr. Kraft is saying now is weird,” Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Putin, said in 2013. “I was standing 20 centimeters away from him and Mr. Putin and saw and heard how Mr. Kraft gave this ring as a gift.” Regardless of what happened, one of Kraft’s Super Bowl rings remains in Russia.