Walter Payton’s Super Bowl ring took an interesting journey

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Super Bowl week often generates more stories than can properly be absorbed. This one is worth revisiting, even though we overlooked it when it was published.

Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times told the story last Thursday of the late Walter Payton’s Super Bowl ring, how it came to be lost, and how it came to be found.

It was found two years after Payton died, and after Payton had a replacement made. But the man who found it, Phil Hong, returned it to Payton’s family, allowing each of his kids to have one.

The ring had ended up tucked into the bottom of a well-traveled couch, after coming up missing when Payton brought the ring to a house party in an effort to inspire a high-school basketball team. Hong had gotten the couch from the family that owned it, as Hong compiled furniture for college.

The ring was found only after Hong’s dog ripped the lining at the bottom of the couch while trying to retrieve a ball.

“I went down to get his ball for him, and the ring was sitting right there,” Hong told Farmer. “I instantly knew.”

Hong had no temptation to keep the ring. (Here’s where a nerd would make a Gollum reference. I’ll prove that I’m not a nerd by not making the reference.) And so the ring was returned to its rightful owner, even though the man who earned it hadn’t lived long enough to see that the ring had been found.

Which means that the only lingering injustice regarding Super Bowl XX relates to the fact that Mike Ditka didn’t give Payton a chance to score a touchdown during the game.

18 responses to “Walter Payton’s Super Bowl ring took an interesting journey

  1. Ok are you going to blame Ditka for Walter losing his ring to. Taking a positive outcome and throwing a negative remark in there is getting old. You need to move on.

  2. Walter was the best RB I ever saw play. All gas, 100% effort every play. Ran, caught, blocked, even threw .

  3. You mean Ditka didn’t let Walter carry the ball that day? Disgraceful. Would have figured him for at least 22 carries. And much more than 61 yards on those 22 carries. Thus almost assuring him a TD in a blowout win. Right? He never had a chance. Shame.

  4. Some will say Jim Brown others will say Barry Sanders. I say he moved better then Barry and ran through guys better then Jim Brown. Yes Walter Payton was the best RB to ever play.

  5. 1phillyphan says:
    February 8, 2019 at 12:00 pm
    Some will say Jim Brown others will say Barry Sanders. I say he moved better then Barry and ran through guys better then Jim Brown. Yes Walter Payton was the best RB to ever play.

    Emmitt Smith 😉

  6. Walter Payton was, in my opinion, the best running back, best overall player, who ever played the game, he did it ALL, and always at 100% effort, rarely ran out of bounds, he ran over and through people……..shame he never got to enjoy his Hall of Fame status!

  7. bagbolt says:
    February 8, 2019 at 11:53 am
    Something smells here. Not buying it.


    Please elaborate. He found and returned the ring in 2001. What is to be gained 18 years later?

  8. Walter was the best overall RB to ever play. Barry Sanders was more elusive and is the guy that should have broke Walter’s record if it weren’t for the crappy Lions squatting on his rights just like they did with Calvin Johnson. Not only was Walter great but he was a great guy who never turned down an autograph from anybody.

  9. Did I really just read Emmitt Smith was better??

    Been watching football since 1977. Walter was the best overall RB. However, I did mention Jim Brown and Barry Sanders. I said some with say that but, Sanders is a good argument. His only flaw was negative yard plays. Still, he was great. Im only listing players I saw play.

    1. Walter Payton
    2. Barry Sanders
    3. Marshall Faulk
    4. Ladamian Tomlinson
    5. Eric Dickerson
    6. Bo Jackson (could’ve been the best if he played NFL only & longer)
    7. Earl Campbell
    8. Marcus Allen
    9. Adrian Peterson
    10. Rodger Craig.

    Honorable mention. Jerome Bettis, Tony Dorsett, Curtis Martin, Frank Gore.

    If you put ANY of these players on that Cowboys line in the 90’s..They would have rushed for 20,000 yards.

  10. Walter Payton hands down all time best look at the lines he ran behind at least til 1983 dude was on his own whenever he got the ball not so with emmitt Smith and Smith played more years and he even conceded Walter was better Walter had his line to run behind we are not talking about Smith, Walter Payton could do everything plus has the humble side to him like michael Jordan along with the killer instinct

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