The Pittsburgh Steelers have an incredible history, as it pertains to Super Bowl championships. The Steelers, along with the New England Patriots, are the only teams to boast six Super Bowl victories in their franchises’ history.
With each championship comes a story, and with each championship comes a new ring. These rings are typically both beautiful and gaudy. The more titles the team collects, the bigger and more elaborate the ring design becomes.
Recently, ESPN did a deep dive into every Super Bowl ring every created. Some stories boarder the bizarre, while others are simply humorous. Below you can see some stories about all six Super Bowl rings, and the tales of those who lived it.
Check it out...
1974 Super Bowl IX
The Steelers’ first Super Bowl came in 1974 in a win over the Minnesota Vikings. The 16-6 win was incredible, in a lot of ways, but Joe Greene’s story about that first ring might have other cringing more than celebrating.
“About four years ago, I was at the (Dallas-Fort Worth) airport, and on the driver side of the car, I opened the door and when I put my hand down to get out, the ring fell off. I saw a car coming slowly and it was too close for me to pick up the ring. And a car ran over the ring. It came back, I picked it up, the diamonds and stones were still there but it changed the shape of my ring. It was an oval shape instead of round because the wheel went over the side of the ring instead of on top of it. I wore it a while but figured I better send it in to (a jeweler) and they repaired it for me. Looks great now.”
1975 Super Bowl X
The Steelers had back-to-back championships, and the Super Bowl X win was a 21-17 win over the Dallas Cowboys. The tale Terry Hanratty tells of his Super Bowl rings, both Super Bowl IX and X, has to do with show-and-tell at his daughter’s school.
“About 15 years ago, Terry Hanratty brought both Super Bowl rings to a show-and-tell session at his daughter’s kindergarten class. He passed around the rings for the classmates to view firsthand, and when he went to collect them, the Super Bowl X ring was missing. “The teacher was sort of shocked,” Hanratty said. “She started looking around. I said, ‘I’m not leaving until I get it.’” Eventually, a boy in the back of the class opened a book where he had rested the ring. He was caught. “The kid was trying to cop the ring,” he said.”
1978 Super Bowl XIII
The Steelers beat the Cowboys again in Super Bowl XIII, this time by the score of 35-31, and Rocky Bleier talks about never being shy about showing off his rings for fans all around the country.
“At speaking engagements, Bleier gives the audience a chance to take pictures with the rings, touch them and try them on. And since the Super Bowl XIII ring is the gaudiest, he wears it the most — which has become a problem. “People will try it on and then walk away,” Bleier said. “A few steps later, they realize it’s still on their finger and they have to bring it back and apologize.” The rings have been to all 50 states, Canada, Germany, Italy, England and Vietnam. They’ve set off TSA alarms in airports. “It’s a wonderful, warm experience I have from a fan base, their appreciation of what that stands for when they see the rings,” Bleier said. “Even some Patriots fans have put them on. Tom Brady is not showing his six, so this is the closest they get.”
1979 Super Bowl XIV
Another set of back-to-back championships saw the Steelers beat the Los Angeles Rams 31-19 for their fourth Super Bowl in six seasons. A remarkable feat, and Jon Kolb tells how some of his rings are sporting fake diamonds, but for good reason.
“Not all of the original diamonds from Jon Kolb’s rings, which reside at the Oklahoma Sports Hall of Fame, are intact. A couple have been replaced with high-quality fakes as his family has used the bling for their own jewelry over the years. “My wife took the first one and made a necklace, she took the second one and made earrings,” Kolb said. “My son Tanner took the third one and made a wedding ring for his wife. And Caleb, my youngest son, I told him he could have the fourth one when he was ready. He’s got that at a jeweler. It’s really neat to me because my hands, they don’t fit rings. All four of them are getting used.”
2005 Super Bowl XL
It is hard to believe it took the Steelers until 2005 to win their next title, but a 21-10 win over the Seattle Seahawks gave Pittsburgh the “one for the thumb”. Head coach Bill Cowher almost lost his ring from the win in Detroit, but not lost as in couldn’t find it. More like lost on someone else’s hand!
After retiring from coaching following the 2006 season, Cowher went on two USO Tours in 2009 and ‘12. He brought his Super Bowl ring along, but it almost didn’t make it back from the ‘09 tour in Iraq. Cowher let service members try it on and pose for pictures, but it got stuck on a man’s finger in Baghdad. “He put it on and he couldn’t get it off. I’m thinking, ‘OK, this is not good,’” Cowher said. “You are sitting here in Baghdad, Iraq and I’m like, ‘We need to get this off.’ You get a little bit of grease and everything else.” The ring eventually came off, but after that, Cowher kept a closer eye on it. If the ring didn’t slide over the middle knuckle with ease, he advised folks to not force it. “It was amazing how much that lifted our soldiers over there,” Cowher said. “It meant a lot to them.”
2009 Super Bowl XLIII
In 2009 the Steelers did it again, this time beating the Arizona Cardinals in a wild 27-23 win. It was Hines Ward’s job to design the ring, and he had one goal in mind: Make one bigger than the one designed by Jerome Bettis after Super Bowl XL. Mission accomplished.
Before Super Bowl XLIII was even played, Ward had a vision of the team’s sixth ring. As the senior member of the Steelers that season, Ward was in charge of the design. Before departing for the game, Ward sketched a picture. With six massive diamonds surrounding the Steelers logo, this ring would have more bling than the one designed by Jerome Bettis for Super Bowl XL. As he boarded the charter plane to the game, Ward placed the sketch in team owner Dan Rooney’s lap. “Mr. Rooney, when we win this one, we’ve got to make sure people on the other side of the room see the ring that we’re wearing,” Ward said. “It’s got to stand out.” A week later, Ward’s ring came to life. “You can see mine is a little bit bigger than Jerome’s,” Ward said. “... Every time I get around Jerome, I always wear the bigger one, just to rub it in his face a little bit.”
When will the Steelers add to their ring/trophy collection? If you ask the fan base they’ll say in unison, “Not soon enough.”
More importantly, which ring is your favorite? Let us know in the comment section, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the offseason.