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Long-lost Super Bowl ring returning to its rightful owner

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:58 p.m. HST, Sep 17, 2011

A Super Bowl ring lost four decades ago off Waikiki will soon be returned to former New York Jets center John Schmitt.

A Honolulu family wants to return the ring to Schmitt, who earned the ring when the Jets upset the Baltimore Colts in the 1969 Super Bowl, Hawaii News Now reports.

"That that ring was found is a bloody miracle. It really is a miracle, you know," Schmitt told the TV station.

The ring slipped off Schmitt's finger in 1971 while he was taking surf lessons about a quarter-mile off Waikiki near the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. He didn't notice the ring was missing until he got back to shore.

"I got a snorkel and some flippers, and I went out and I dove until I was blue," Schmitt said. "I'm not kidding you. It must have been three hours I was out there looking. I couldn't find it anywhere. I was just exhausted. I virtually could not swim or flip my legs anymore. And I just went in brokenhearted."

Waikiki lifeguard John Ernstberg found the ring and gave it to his wife, Mary, who put it in a box, said Cindy Saffery, the couple's grandniece. The Ernstbergs died in the 1990s, and their estate went to Saffery and her husband, Samuel.

The Safferys then recently took the ring to jeweler Brenda Reichel to see whether it was real.

Reichel, of Carats & Karats Fine Jewelry Antiques & Collectibles, said Friday that she was able to verify it was authentic. The 14-karat gold ring had diamonds, the trademark of the ringmaker, Schmitt's No. 52 and his last name, and the score of the Super Bowl as well as the AFL championship.

Reichel and the Safferys contacted the Jets and were forwarded to Schmitt, who lives on Long Island. After a few phone messages, they finally talked Wednesday, Rei­chel said.

"I couldn't believe it. I mean I honestly couldn't believe it. I mean 40 years," Schmitt said.

The Safferys say they are not interested in money. They just want to get it back on Schmitt's finger. Schmitt is offering to fly the Safferys to New York so he can thank them in person when his ring is returned. A date has not been set.

"It's a legacy. He put a lot of hard work into this to earn this. This is not something that you just can buy off the street," Samuel Saffery said. "This is something that you earn, so for Mr. Schmitt he earned this ring, so by right it'll make me feel good to put it personally back into his hand."

VIDEO: Jets player on lost Super Bowl ring: ‘It's a miracle, no ifs, ands or buts’

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ewa56 wrote:
Way to Go Sam and Cindy! Your Grandparents, our Uncle Sam and Aunty V, and your Ohana are proud of you guys! Enjoy New York!
on September 17,2011 | 03:58AM
temarnie wrote:
Proud of what? That ring should have been returned years ago to its easily identified owner. The fact that your family kept it this long is embarresing to say the least. No one should be getting a free anything but rather do the right thing finally, and send it back certified and insured to its rightfull owner ASAP! Auwe.
on September 22,2011 | 03:19PM
localtodamax808 wrote:
To the Saffery Ohana....Bless your hearts. You did a great thing.
on September 17,2011 | 07:02AM
onevoice82 wrote:
I guess my mind wonders to the dark side often but is anyone else wondering why the Ernstbergs did not do a little homework and return the ring when they found it? His name was in the ring for crying out loud!
on September 17,2011 | 07:48AM
grasshopper wrote:
I guess my mind also wonders to the dark side as i thought the same thing. Interesting how the Safferys kept it for 20+ years. I bet Reichel convinced them that it should be returned. Maybe she should get the free trip to New York.
on September 17,2011 | 10:13AM
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