Walter Payton: A Bittersweet Superbowl Ring Story

andrewCorrespondent INovember 13, 2008

In 1996 retired Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton was coaching a high school basketball team outside Chicago. As an exercise in trust, he gave one of the boys, Nick Abruzzo, his diamond-studded 1986 Super Bowl ring to hold for a few days.

Nick and his friends passed it around in awe . . . and then lost it.

Five years later, college student Phil Hong bought an old couch for his dorm room from his friend Joe Abruzzo—Nick’s younger brother. One day, while looking in the couch for a lost dog toy, he found the ring. Unfortunately, Payton had died in 1999, but Hong returned the ring to his widow, Connie Payton. “This ring was what he worked for his whole life,” he said. “It needs to be back in the family.”