PITTSBURGH (KDKA) –- In their day, Pro football Hall of Fame rings were very similar to college graduation rings.
Monday, seven Super Bowl Steelers were presented diamond-laden “replacement” rings by the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
In the Champions’ Club of Heinz Field, they took the stage: Ambassador Dan Rooney, Dermontti Dawson, Mel Blount, Franco Harris, John Stallworth, Joe Greene and Lynn Swann. Legends all, and proud members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The moments they found out are cherished memories.
“I got the phone call, and I was ecstatic and nervous all at the same time, just very happy,” Dawson said.
“I was on that final list of ten or whatever it is for 14 consecutive years,” Swann said.
Joe Greene, the definition of tough, said his immediate thought was, “I couldn’t get real happy about it because I was thinking about the speech.”
Ambassador Rooney recalled everyone worrying about going longer than the allotted eight minutes.
“I said, ‘don’t even worry about that, Montana is going to take all the time anyway,’” Rooney said. “Which, by the way, he did.”
They acknowledged the contributions of their families and teammates.
“The only regret I have is, I look at guys like Larry Brown, L.C., Donny Shcell, that have not gotten that call, and I wear this humbly for those guys because it was a team effort,” Blount said.
And then, one-by-one, Hall of Fame president David Baker presented their almost 2-carat diamond-encrusted new Hall of Fame rings from Kay Jewelers, a ring that would rival any modern Super Bowl ring.
“It’s acknowledgement of our role in the game, and that we are still appreciated,” Stallworth said.
Swann, Stallworth and Harris spent a lot of time running into end zones, so KDKA-TV’s John Shumway couldn’t help but ask them about Antonio Brown embracing the goal posts Sunday night. Franco hadn’t seen it until Shumway showed him the replay.
“That is funny,” he said.
“To say the least,” Stallworth added.
“He’s got great emotion, he’s going to do a lot of different things,” Swann said, “I just hope he never gets hurt doing them.”
A lot has changed in the modern game, except for one thing. Every player on the field longs to one day stand in these men’s shoes.
“This jacket, this ring, it all comes together, and what stands behind these moments, it all means so much,” Harris said.