Super Bowl ring finally returned

Published On: Jan 30 2013 11:01:00 PM HST

A former NFL player finally gets his hands on his Super Bowl ring after losing it 40 years ago.

The Super Bowl is the pinnacle for NFL players, so a victory ring is a hard earned treasure.

John Schmitt, the New York Jet's center in Super Bowl III, fought hard for his ring. He never took it off after that important victory.

"I had never seen a ring like that in my life. It was just unbelievable. I just couldn't stop looking at it. You know what you went through to get that, you know. I had two leg operations, three broken noses, countless broken bones and everything else," said Schmitt.

In 1971, on a trip to Hawaii, Schmitt's most precious prize slipped from his grasp.

"I rented a surf board. When I finally came in it was late afternoon and there was my hand with no ring on it. I got sick, I was so upset," said Schmitt.

The football player went home with an empty hand and a broken heart.

"There are thousands of men better than me who never go a sniff of a Super Bowl ring. Then for me to lose it, it just made you feel empty," said Schmitt.

Months later, in the waters off Waikiki a glittery discovery was made.

"One day my uncle, a lifeguard in Waikiki, found the ring while swimming. He came home and handed my aunt the ring. Not knowing what it was, she tucked it away and put in on the shelf," said Waikiki resident Cindy Saffery.

The ring sat on the shelf for decades, until long after her uncle and aunt's death.  But several years ago, Cindy and her husband Samuel cleaned out a closet and made a surprise discovery.

"There in the box was the ring. And I said we need to return this ring to the owner," said Cindy.

Finally after 40 years apart, John would be reunited with his ring, as the Safferys went to New York.

"When he finally met us, he couldn't stop thanking us," said Samuel.

The ring had been appraised between $50,000 and $100,000, but the Safferys knew it wasn't their money.

"John earned it.  It took a lot of hard work on his part, so I'm thankful and blessed that is it back in his hands," said Samuel.

The Safferys gave away a treasure, but they said they got much more in return -- John is now a part of their extended family.  Schmitt said he plans on coming back to Hawaii, and will even take another surfing lesson in Waikiki, but he'll leave the ring safely behind in New York.


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