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.