In 1995, the New England Patriots became a football dynasty. Having lost only two games during the regular 2004 season, the defeated the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 to win the Super Bowl. In doing so, they became the first NFL team to win two consecutive Super Bowls since the Denver Broncos’ 1997 and 1998 championships. Not only that, but they became only the second team to win three Super Bowls in four years; the Dallas Cowboys being the first team to accomplish this. Later that year, however, Patriots owner Robert Kraft lost his Super Bowl ring to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The story of this historic loss has become a matter of intrigue since Bob Kraft revealed that Putin did not receive the diamond-encrusted ring as a gift, as he had originally claimed, but actually pocketed it during a meeting in St. Petersburg, Russia.
The story begins at a meeting between business executives and the Russian President in St. Petersburg. This week, while speaking at the Carnegie Hall’s Medal of Excellence gala at the Waldorf-Astoria, the Patriots owner recounted that, during the meeting, he took off the ring and handed it to Putin. According to Kraft, the Russian President made a curious remark: “I can kill someone with this ring,” said Putin, referring, presumably, to it’s bulkiness – although he may also have had plans to have the ring modified to fire deadly laser beams. In recounting what happened next, Kraft said “I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out.”
At the time, Kraft had released a statement, regarding the incident, which said “President Putin, a great and knowledgeable sports fan, was clearly taken with its uniqueness. I decided to give him the ring as a symbol of the respect and admiration that I have for the Russian people and [his] leadership.” At last week’s event, however, Kraft says he wanted the ring back. He claims to have received a call from the White House, at the time, urging him to, essentially, drop the matter. “It would really be in the best interest of US-Soviet relations if you meant to give the ring as a present,” he was told by the White House. As a side note, the Soviet Union was no longer in existence at this time. White House incompetency is nothing new. Kraft explained to the historically-challenged individual at the White House that he really did want the ring back. “I had an emotional tie to the ring, it has my name on it,” said Kraft, “I don’t want to see it on eBay.” Super Bowl rings, arguably, represent the pinnacle of achievement in American sports. The ring is estimated to be worth more than $25,000. Kraft, understandably, was not happy about losing it to Putin. In response to Kraft’s expressed desire to recover the item, the unidentified White House staffer simply repeated “It would really be in the best interest if you meant to give the ring as a present.”
The ring, it is reported, now rests in the library of the Kremlin, in Moscow – sans laser beam, we must assume.
Written by Graham J Noble