Super Bowl ring returns to its rightful owner

By Paul Drewes
Published On: Nov 17 2013 02:21:00 PM HST

It was lost in Hawaii more than 40 years ago and it finally returned to its rightful owner.

HONOLULU -

A very special Super Bowl ring lost in Hawaii more than 40 years ago finally returns with its rightful owner.

Click here to watch Paul Drewes' report.

It has been eight years since John Schmitt last visited Hawaii and no one was happier about a return visit for the former New York Jet center than Samuel Saffrey and his wife Cindy Saffrey.

"He's like the dad I never had. I'm so grateful that he was able to make it to the islands," said Saffrey.

The last time Schmitt was here, he didn't have his Super Bowl ring: A ring he earned in a New York Jets victory at Super Bowl III.

That is because in 1971, the ring slipped off Schmitt's finger while he was surfing off Waikiki.

Cindy Saffrey's uncle later found the ring and gave it to her aunt, who put it away for safekeeping.

Decades later after those relatives died, the Saffrey's set about finding the rightful owner of the ring.

"For me and my wife Cindy, this was the best thing that could ever happen to us," said Samuel Saffrey.

The couple didn't ask for or receive a reward for returning the ring.  Instead they said they've received something much more valuable than money -- a trip to New York to personally give Schmitt the ring, which turned into the start of a deep and meaningful friendship.

"When Sammy was getting ready to go home from New York he said, 'John in Hawaii we're family now and families speak every week.' So most Thursdays we call each other," said Schmitt.

The Schmitts got a chance to meet the rest of their new Hawaiian ohana during this visit. It was a happy and even emotional homecoming for Schmitt and his Super Bowl ring, which were last together in Hawaii 42 years ago.

"It's great to finish this full circle. I'm so happy to be here. It's such a beautiful place, these people are so great. They are so wonderful," said Schmitt.

The returned ring isn't the only Super Bowl ring Schmitt has from the 1969 victory. He had one made up to replace the ring originally lost, then another one years later after that ring wore down from use. But it is the original that he said means the most to him.

"He's sticking close to me. No going out in the water for him," said Samuel Saffrey.

Schmitt hopes he and his wife will be able to return to Hawaii for future vacations. In the meantime, he wants the Saffreys to visit his extended family in New York.

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