Who wants to buy a Super Bowl ring?
Two of them from '70s Steelers to be sold on eBay
Friday, July 11, 2008
By Dan Majors, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Sweating through training camp, studying playbooks, pounding through practices, and then taking the weekly beatings that are part of life in the National Football League -- all this so that one day you can own a Super Bowl ring.
Or you can just go to eBay.
That's the game plan for some less-than-athletic types who are expected to bid for two Steelers Super Bowl rings going on the Internet auction block Monday.
Right now, the two rings -- given in the mid-1970s to a Steelers front-office employee after wins in Super Bowls IX and X -- are in a safe deposit box in a Mt. Lebanon bank. Part of a court-approved bankruptcy sale, they have been appraised at more than $10,000 each, according to Fred Fall, who has been appointed to oversee the liquidation.
"This ring is exactly as Joe Greene or Jack Ham's or any of the other players' rings," said Mr. Fall, of Fall Liquidation in Oakmont. "The only difference is that the name is different. It's a real, authentic Super Bowl ring."
The eBay listing will include each ring's size and weight and a detailed description. The name engraved on the side is that of the Steelers' employee who received them from the team.
"We didn't want to put the fellow's name in there because it's embarrassing," Mr. Fall said. "He's filed for bankruptcy, and he's lost the rings."
The rings are being auctioned separately.
The first one, commemorating the Steelers' Jan. 12, 1975, victory over the Minnesota Vikings, will be put up at 12:15 p.m. and taken down one week later. Manufactured by Jostens, it is made of 10-karat gold weighing 42.3 grams and has a single 1-carat modern-cut diamond. Listed in mint condition, it bears the words "Pittsburgh Steelers -- World Champions 1974" and the results of the team's three postseason games.
The auction for the other one, honoring the Steelers' Jan. 18, 1976, defeat of the Dallas Cowboys, begins at 12:45 p.m. and likewise ends a week later.
That ring, manufactured by Balfour, also is of 10K gold and weighs 36.7 grams. It has two half-carat diamonds, signifying the Steelers' second Super Bowl win, and an image of the Vince Lombardi Trophy awarded to the NFL champion. It's also in mint condition.
"The successful bidders would pay certified funds to the trustee and get the rings," Mr. Fall said.
A minimum bid of $1,000 is listed for each ring, and there is an unpublished reserve.
"It is something," said Mr. Fall, 55, a lifelong Steelers fan who had the rings photographed for sale on eBay. "I have to say, it was the first time I've handled an authentic championship ring of any kind."
Mr. Fall said the NFL and the Steelers have no prohibition against selling the rings. Once given to the player, coach or team employee, the ring becomes the property of the recipient.
This isn't the first time that Super Bowl rings have been sold. In 2000, for example, Lester Hayes, the former All-Pro cornerback of the Los Angeles Raiders, pawned his Super Bowl XVIII ring for $800. Before he could buy it back, the pawnshop put the ring up for auction on eBay, and within 24 hours the bidding was up to $11,000. That ring eventually went to an anonymous bidder for $18,200.
"But I don't think that eBay has seen many of these," Mr. Fall said. "There just aren't that many out there that are available."
A number of variables, naturally, will come into play with the sale.
"The rings are probably less valuable because it's a front office personnel rather than a player," Mr. Fall said.
Still, he anticipates a successful sale.
"There are Steelers fans all over the world. I think this is a very good way of getting the rings out there," he said. "And sports collectibles bring crazy money, because people like to own pieces of history, and this is a piece of history."
Dan Majors can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-263-1456.
First published on July 11, 2008 at 12:00 amhttp://www.post-gazette.com/pg/08193/896313-66.stm