The Super Bowl marks the culmination of a grueling NFL season and symbolizes the pinnacle of achievement for its athletes.
Players pour their hearts and souls into the quest for the coveted Super Bowl ring, a tangible symbol of victory and excellence each year. Despite its immense sentimental and material value, there have been instances where players found themselves in circumstances that led them to pawn or sell these prized possessions. Exploring the stories of players who pawned or sold their Super Bowl rings offers a unique perspective into the often unseen challenges professional athletes may face, even after reaching the zenith of their careers.
Delving into the narratives of these players reveals a complex interplay of financial distress, personal struggles, or even the desire to support a greater cause. The decision to part with a Super Bowl ring is never trivial, as it represents not just a piece of jewelry but a personal milestone, a memory of triumph, and a testament to the hard work and dedication required to be a part of an NFL championship team. The stories of players who sold their Super Bowl rings are not just about the transactions but also about the human experiences and the life paths that led these athletes to make such a significant decision.
Players Who Pawned Their Super Bowl Ring
The Super Bowl ring, an emblem of ultimate success in football, carries immense prestige and personal significance for those who earn it. Yet, the journey of each ring does not always end on the finger of the victor. Here are five players who made the difficult decision to pawn their Super Bowl rings:
- Won the Super Bowl with: Chicago Bears
- Super Bowl result: Super Bowl XX, Bears over Patriots, 46-10
Why did he pawn his ring? William “The Refrigerator” Perry, an iconic figure in NFL history, was renowned for his colossal stature. A key player on the 1985 Bears squad, his team’s dominance in the NFL culminated in a Super Bowl victory. Perry’s physical enormity was epitomized by his size 25 Super Bowl ring, dwarfing the average adult male’s ring size of 10-12, and standing as the largest Super Bowl ring ever issued to a professional football player.
Perry’s journey post-Super Bowl was marked by hardship. In 2000, faced with health issues and a looming home tax foreclosure, he was compelled to sell his 1985 Super Bowl championship ring. The ring passed through various hands, eventually fetching $203,150 at an auction in July 2015. Tragically, Perry, who had initially sold the ring to a private collection to raise funds, did not benefit from this substantial auction price, highlighting the stark contrast between his moment of glory and his challenges later in life.
- Won the Super Bowl with: Indianapolis Colts
- Super Bowl result: Super Bowl XLI, Colts over Bears, 29-17
Why did he pawn his ring? Gary Brackett, an Indianapolis Colts linebacker and former teammate of Peyton Manning, carved out a notable NFL career, especially as a key component of Tony Dungy’s defense. His journey with the Colts, which started as an undrafted free agent, culminated in the 2007 Super Bowl victory, a highlight of his nine-season tenure that concluded with his retirement in 2011.
Post-retirement, Brackett faced significant financial challenges, exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. By 2021, these issues escalated, leaving him nearly $4 million in debt and leading to a bankruptcy filing. Brackett made the hard choice to sell numerous assets to alleviate his financial burdens, including his prized Super Bowl ring. Unfortunately, the ring only garnered $60,000 at auction, contrasting its sentimental value.
- Won the Super Bowl with: Miami Dolphins
- Super Bowl result: Super Bowl VII, Dolphins over Washington, 14-7
Why did he pawn his ring? Jim Langer, an esteemed NFL Hall of Famer, is celebrated for his extraordinary blocking skills that were crucial to the success of the Miami Dolphins in the 1970s. His remarkable prowess on the field was a driving force behind the Dolphins’ legendary 1972 season, marking a historic milestone in NFL history as the team achieved the only perfect season to date.
In 2015, decades after this remarkable season, Langer decided to part with his Super Bowl ring from the 1972 season. While lacking the intricate designs and lavish adornments characteristic of contemporary championship rings, this ring held immeasurable historical significance.
The ring was put up for auction by Hunt Auctions, located in Exton, Pennsylvania. Its sale was not merely a transaction but the passing on of a piece of sports history. The ring fetched an impressive sum of $37,375, a testament to its significance. David Hunt, the proprietor of Hunt Auctions, emphasized the ring’s extraordinary status. He noted its scarcity and its association with Langer, a key member of the Dolphins’ 1972 team and a Hall of Fame inductee. This association elevated the ring beyond mere memorabilia; it was considered among the most prestigious pieces of championship jewelry held in private collections.
- Won the Super Bowl with: Green Bay Packers
- Super Bowl result: Super Bowl I, Packers over Chiefs, 35-10
Why did he pawn his ring? Jerry Kramer, a revered figure in the history of the Green Bay Packers, dedicated his entire professional career to the Wisconsin-based team. His tenure with the Packers was marked by remarkable success, including victories in two Super Bowls and five NFL championships before the AFL-NFL merger. Among his accolades, Kramer’s 1967 Super Bowl ring held a special place, being from the first Super Bowl, and was highly coveted by collectors.
In 2016, as Kramer celebrated his 80th birthday, he faced the need to generate funds for his grandchildren’s college education. This led him to consider selling a selection of his memorabilia and personal items, including his 1967 Super Bowl ring. The ring eventually sold for $125,475, a testament to its historical significance and Kramer’s legacy in the sport.
- Won the Super Bowl with: New York Giants
- Super Bowl result: Super Bowl XXV, Giants over Bills, 20-19
Why did he pawn his ring? SCP Auctions of Laguna Niguel, California, holds the world auction record for selling a Super Bowl Championship ring. In 2012, it auctioned off the Super Bowl XXV ring of Lawrence Taylor, a New York Giants linebacker, for an astounding $230,401. Taylor, celebrated as one of the NFL’s most exceptional players, particularly for his pass-rushing skills and leadership, played a pivotal role in the Giants’ 1991 Super Bowl triumph.
Despite earning an estimated $50 million during his NFL career, Taylor faced several challenges, including legal issues, that adversely affected his financial situation. The auction of his 1991 Super Bowl ring, for reasons not entirely clear, underscored his lasting popularity. The ring’s sale for a record-breaking $230,401 highlighted Taylor’s enduring legacy in the sport.
Taylor’s life, however, was not without controversy. He struggled with drug addiction during and after his career, leading to financial hardships. The sale of his Super Bowl ring was a significant event in his post-NFL life, symbolizing his remarkable football achievements and the personal struggles he endured.
The ring’s authenticity was confirmed by two letters of provenance: one from Taylor, stating he gave the ring as a gift to his son, Lawrence Taylor Jr., and another from his son, confirming the ring was authentic.