Kramer replica ring sold

The saga of Jerry Kramer's lost Super Bowl ring has come to an extremely happy ending. Kramer lost the ring while washing his hands during a 1981 flight. It turned up last month in an online auction site. Kramer contacted the site, Mastro Auctions Inc., and got his ring back.

All along, he had been wearing a replica ring. That ring was auctioned this week, and it ended Friday with a Green Bay man buying it for $22,634, his Web site,, reported.

Kramer isn't pocketing the money. Instead, it's the first step in his goal of improving the pensions for the long-ago players who helped build the NFL into the colossus it is today.

"I have always felt great concern and frustration regarding the condition of some of the retired players who helped build the league," Kramer said when announcing the auction. That frustration was eased a bit Friday.

"I'm pretty pleased with everything. It's been an amazing series of events for me, from the ring returning," he said.

This auction is the first step for Kramer, who is working with Mastro president Doug Allen to put together a much larger auction of historical NFL items later this year, with proceeds going to retired players.

Kramer's frustration with the pension plan stems from the NFL being a multibillion-dollar industry today yet the players who helped build the lead decades ago receive a mere pittance.

Using himself as an example, Kramer, who played for the Packers from 1958 to 1968 — with a starting salary of $8,000 that eventually peaked at $28,000 — received $454 a month from the league. But when he turned 62 and became eligible for Social Security, his pension dipped to $158, though, because of how the pension plan is structured, he said the NFL kicks in an extra $200 per month because he played in the 1958 season.

Also, Kramer said, many players are without private medical insurance. Because of the rigors of professional football and the rudimentary surgical skills of decades ago, players such as Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Wood need crutches to get around.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told the Associated Press that the league spends $5 million a month on retirement and disability benefits for its more than 2,500 players.

That, however, works out to a mere $200 per player.

The identity of the ring's buyer is expected to be revealed today.

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