A new layer of intrigue was added to the Super Bowl ring feud between New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and Russian president Vladimir Putin on Friday, as Putin offered to replace the ring that has become the center of a controversy.
CBS Sports' Josh Katzowitz had the report (via the AFP). In it, Putin proposes a solution to the now world-famous ring gaffe that would saddle Kraft with a replica of the ring he no longer possesses. Here's an excerpt of Putin's quotes from the piece:
You know, I do not remember either Mr. Kraft or the ring...They handed out some sorts of souvenirs...But if it is such a valuable thing to Mr. Kraft and his team, I have a proposal.
We will ask our enterprises to craft a really good, noticeable thing—so it is clear that it is expensive, made of a good metal, with a rock—so that this jewel is passed on from generation to generation in the team whose interests Mr. Kraft represents. I think that this would be the most intelligent...solution to such a difficult international problem.
Putin recognized the ring as a gift from Kraft and the Patriots, but it appears Putin is willing to buy Kraft a new ring to correct any misunderstanding the two men might have had on that fateful night in 2005.
Kraft claimed earlier in June that Putin stole his ring, noting that the United States government had urged him to keep the story quiet to keep diplomatic relations with Russia intact despite Kraft's unsettling feeling of personal theft.
Speaking to the New York Post, Kraft noted that the George W. Bush administration had urged him to classify the ring as a gift that was being kept in the Kremlin library.
It's interesting that Putin has offered to replace the ring, yet feigns no memory of taking it with him back to Russia the last time the two men met. The Putin-Kraft feud now stretches over eight years, and as recently as March of 2012, people still wondered about the whereabouts of the $25,000 ring (via the New England Patriots' official Twitter feed):
Diplomatic relations be darned, it looks like Putin and Kraft will settle this situation on their own.