POSTED: 01:20 p.m. HST, Oct 29, 2013
LAST UPDATED: 01:20 p.m. HST, Oct 29, 2013
ENCINITAS, Calif. >> NFL Hall of Famer Lance Alworth got his Super Bowl ring back Tuesday -- 21 years after it was stolen.
The former wide receiver for the San Diego Chargers and the Dallas Cowboys contacted authorities after receiving a phone call Sept. 7 from a caller demanding $40,000 for the ring.
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department discovered the ring was scheduled to be sold Nov. 20 at an auction house in Laguna Niguel with an opening bid of $44,000.
The ring was stolen in 1992 from a now-defunct San Diego restaurant, where it was part of a display of sports memorabilia.
"It's a miracle to have it back after all these years," a smiling Alworth said at a news conference where he showed off the ring.
No arrests have been made, but sheriff's officials said they are focusing on three suspects they declined to identify.
A Palm Springs couple who owned a struggling women's clothing store got the ring in 2001 as collateral for a $5,000 loan to a man who said he won it in a poker game with Alford, said Detective Jaime Rodriguez. The man is now believed to be dead.
Alford told a store employee who called to demand the money that the ring was stolen, but the couple allegedly went ahead with plans to sell it through SCP Auctions.
Alworth was awarded the ring in 1972 after Super Bowl VI, in which the Dallas Cowboys beat the Miami Dolphins 24-3 in New Orleans. Alworth caught two passes and a touchdown in the game. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1978.