Aaron Rodgers and his offensive linemen wore cowboy hats at the team's Welcome Back Luncheon before the start of the regular season. Back in the Lambeau Field Atrium on Thursday night, coach Mike McCarthy wore a cowboy hat to the team's Super Bowl ring ceremony.
"I was making reference to, ‘We started in the atrium, back in September, with the kickoff luncheon, the players sent a loud message that was heard — and analyzed," McCarthy said in the adjacent Frozen in Time ice cream shop as Thursday's celebration was winding down.
"I thought it was the perfect (way to) acknowledge that North Texas was the destination, but now we'll look back at it as a place of celebration for us. I just wanted to have some fun, and frankly, anytime you follow Mark Murphy and Ted Thompson speaking, if you draw the third straw, you've got to be a little creative. So, that was part of it."
The championship was a crowning achievement for McCarthy, whose first coaching job was at his alma mater, Fort Hays State, in 1987, as well as two of the team's elderstatesmen, cornerback Charles Woodson and receiver Donald Driver.
"That's the ultimate goal, to win this ring. … I'm going to cherish it for a long time," Driver said.
While team President/CEO Mark Murphy, McCarthy and general manager Ted Thompson were the ring's principal designers, they sought input from the team's captains before the lockout started. Murphy joked that the players' input centered on "big" and "bling." They certainly got their wish. The ring features almost 120 diamonds totaling 3.35 karats. The Packers' "G" logo is cast from 18-karat gold, with 13 diamonds — one for each NFL championship — filling the "G." Surrounding the logo are 92 more diamonds to mark the franchise's 92-year history. In each corner are four marquis-cut diamonds that represent the four Super Bowl championships.
One ring shoulder features the player's last name and number and a picture of Lambeau Field. The other shoulder features the Lombardi Trophy with "Packers" engraved above.
On the inside of the ring are the scores of the four playoff games and the number "1" flanked by the words "Mind, Goal, Purpose, Heart" to commemorate Woodson's inspirational tone.
"I put a couple of imprints on there," Woodson said. "I think the one that I think is the most special is just inside of the ring — what I said to the guys after the Chicago game leading up to the Super Bowl is engraved on the inside of the ring. I think that's what I'm most proud of because for that two weeks, as I was talking up there, (it was) for those guys just to remember to stay focused on the task at hand and the task was to go down to Dallas and win the Super Bowl. Everyone did that, everyone stayed focused, everyone was ready to play when the lights came on. That's the reason why we're here tonight."
NFL Films put together a video showing how the rings were made and the meaning behind the diamond numbers. The video only heightened the excitement for a night that had been more than four months in the making. Finally, there was a countdown so all of the players — together for the first time since the Return to Titletown celebration on the Tuesday after the Super Bowl — could open their ring boxes together.
"It's an incredible feeling, to have the opportunity just to have the players back in the building to share this moment, everybody's been looking forward to Ring Night," McCarthy said. "And having the opportunity to talk to players and coaches who have gone through it in the past, to a man every one of them said, ‘Hey, make sure you enjoy Ring Night, it's so special.' And that definitely held true tonight. It was a special night I think definitely everybody will remember."
The team would not disclose the cost of the rings or how many people got them. The NFL pays for up to 150 rings at $5,000 per ring, plus adjustments for fluctuating prices for gold and diamonds).
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport.