I took a trip to the Football Hall of Fame in Canton in 2014ish. (I made a big blog post on it at KissingSuzyKolber at the time, but Uproxx has scrubbed KSK from the internet). The hall was a neat enough place, pretty much how you’d picture it: a bunch of rooms detailing histories, featuring some cool artifacts, and the big Hall of Heads on the wall. My favorite display ended up surprising me: it was a modest display tucked in a corner. It was every super bowl ring to that point, laid out in chronological order.

It was probably the best visual display of power creep and blooming excess you’ll ever see. Looking at the rings in photos, you might get an abstract idea of the excess, the detail of the diamonds, etc, but to see them laid out with your own eyes…it’s surreal. They start out looking like modest class rings and turn into monstrosities bigger than your thumbs. By the time you got to the bottom row (and remember, this was the mid 2010’s, the final one on display was the Patriots 4th ring), they didn’t even look like rings anymore. They were paperweights, each one worth more than my car.

It’s only gotten worse. Much worse. In 2020, the designers realized you can only fit so many diamonds on the surface of these refrigerators so they came up with a brand new gimmick: internal displays. The Bucs second ring opens up to an internal display of the Bucs stadium engraved inside to celebrate being the first ever home team champion. Then the designers were like, let’s make it even worse! The Rams ring from 2021 replicates SoFi stadium with a model inside the center. From an engineering standpoint, I’m not gonna lie, it’s pretty cool. From a ring standpoint: what the fuck. Why are they even making rings anymore? You can’t wear these in any capacity, they are shelf display pieces. The new Chiefs ring isn’t as ridiculous as the Rams one but it’s not far off. A reminder that the people in these photos are very large human beings. The rings still look enormous and impractical on them.

My question is this: where do they go? They just now found a new way to make them ridiculous with the pop-off tops and internal displays. But what next? This new trend will carry them for a while but what’s the next innovation? What happens now? At no point will they ever be able to stop and reboot the idea with a simpler style because that team would rightfully get very pissed off if the last team got a big expensive chandelier and they got a humble 10k minimalism ring. In a decade we might have entire African blood diamond mines dedicated to getting the rocks just for these rings. It’s stupid.

Looking back on that ESPN article showing all the rings back to back and I feel like the sweet spot was the late 70’s – late 80’s. I don’t mind a little excess, the situation calls for it. The Cowboys 1992 ring feels like the first ring that goes too hard, with just a bit too many diamonds on it to be reasonable. I prefer my diamonds to be carefully laid out, not just crammed in there in massive numbers. From then on it’s just diamonds on diamonds on diamonds as the displays protrude outward higher and higher, wider and wider.

Some other random thoughts on the rings:
-The Ravens 2000 ring, with the ruby eye, is the one I hate the most. The ruby eye looks awful. No I swear this has nothing to do with the game, I genuinely just hate the way it looks. The ruby eye makes the bird look cartoony and bug-eyed.
-The Giants SB42 ring (3rd one) is my favorite of the 4.
-Out of all the stupid huge excess rings, the Steelers 6th one is at least neat looking
-The Broncos 2nd ring looks like two dicks
-Most of the Patriots rings are obnoxious but I hate the 2016 one the most with how the words stick out on the sides.
-The Eagles 2017 ring is honestly my favorite one of the past 10 years. Since it is the first championship, they took the opportunity to be a bit simpler. Still too many diamonds but I appreciate the simple layout.
-I think the Steelers 3rd in 1978 is my favorite of all of them. Strikes the right balance of gaudy and structured with good use of the logo stars.