NFL Championship Rings Coveted by Players, Collectors

Rich Mueller@sportscollectorContributor IIIJuly 24, 2011

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 13:  NFL player's Charlie Peprah, Jarrett Bush and Desmond Bishop show off their 2011 Super Bowl rings for the Green Bay Packers arrive at The 2011 ESPY Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live on July 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

When Green Bay Packers President Mark Murphy was asked about the new NFL Championship rings to be presented to Green Bay players, he said, “They wanted big and they wanted bling.”

It’s true that players are very well aware that an NFL championship ring should be different than other rings. It’s typically different in size, shape and value. In fact, the Packers title rings were reported to be 18-karat gold after winning their most recent Super Bowl. Even Charles Woodson, a former Heisman winner, admitted the ring “seals the deal.”

NFL championship rings are big and bold because they are supposed to be. The rings represent the most coveted championship in American sports. If you aren’t aware of just how important and symbolic these rings are, listen to former Green Bay right guard Jerry Kramer.

Kramer lost his original NFL championship ring from the first Super Bowl in an airport bathroom.  The ring eventually showed up on an auction and when the auction company found out, they alerted Kramer of the news. Kramer was presented his ring some 25 years later in a ceremony in front of Lambeau Field.

His words concerning the ring were of little surprise to collectors who appreciate the value of such an item. “This is an historic heirloom from Super Bowl I and an important piece of my legacy,” he said. 

Perhaps Kramer is among the old fashioned school where players hang on to those items, cherish them and pass them on to family.

It’s that type of story that makes you wonder how could any player ever let one go.

NEW ORLEANS - JUNE 16:  A member of the New Orleans Saints shows off his ring from Super Bowl XLIV on June 16, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
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It’s happening more and more these days, although lately it’s baseball championship rings and those from recent college players who need the money. Rings are being found regularly in auctions on eBay and at sports auction houses. It appears to be a trend that isn’t going to slow down anytime soon. Authentic rings fall straight off the hands players and into the bright lights of an online auction.  

Finding it too difficult to divvy up material items among his heirs, Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver recently sold his memorabilia, including his Hall of Fame ring, which garnered $31,625, and a World Series ring for $20,700. Red Auerbach championship rings sold for tens of thousands through various sales conducted by SCP Auctions.

While lower-level team employees have been known to sell their rings to pay bills, there aren’t many ways to romanticize the idea of a well-paid player wanting or needing to sell this sacred memorabilia. If there is a positive to come from this trend, perhaps it’s the fact that the ordinary “Joe” can have access to such an item. In other words, if you have the dough it’s perfectly feasible you can own one of the historic items only presented to a small few.

Sometimes those involved in surrendering a championship rings don't have a choice in the matter. In June, former Green Bay lineman Fuzzy Thurston had his Super Bowl II ring seized because the government claimed he owed taxes. That ring is one of many that will head directly into the auction world. The ring, to be auctioned in Chicago next month, could sell for $20,000 or more.

That’s because NFL championship rings are becoming a big deal to the consumer of today. Investors and fans are giving notice they are interested. The demand is definitely urging on the supply in this issue. Past sales have created a new urgency to place rings of this magnitude in online auctions where large sums of money will be yielded.

The market of these types of rings is a telling sign of how interested the general public and vendors have become. Even replicas of the real deal are becoming decent sellers during online auctions on sites like eBay. The potential future occurrences of this trend seem to be extremely high given the prices paid for NFL championship rings. In other words, as long as the buyers keep pushing the price up then we will most likely see more and more rings on the market.


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