A Trip Down Memory Lane: The Reason Why Vladimir Putin Has a Real Super Bowl Ring

Written by Henrik Rothen

Feb.04 - 2024 10:35 AM CET

Photo: Youtube
Photo: Youtube
The Russian President Vladimir Putin actually possesses a genuine Super Bowl Ring from the Patriots' championship over the Philadelphia Eagles in 2005.

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With Super Bowl LVIII just a week away, featuring the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, February 11th, it's a perfect time to take a walk down memory lane. Let's rewind to February 2005, when the New England Patriots clinched their third championship in four years by defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 24-21 in Super Bowl XXXIX. However, this victory is overshadowed by a curious incident involving none other than Vladimir Putin and Patriots owner Robert Kraft's Super Bowl ring.

The story, as bizarre as it sounds, revolves around Kraft's visit to Saint Petersburg, where he had an encounter with the Russian president. In a moment of pride and perhaps a bit of naivety, Kraft showed Putin his prized Super Bowl ring. According to an article published to years ago by Marca, the situation took a comedic yet alarming turn when Putin, after joking about the ring's potential as a lethal weapon, casually pocketed it and exited the room, flanked by three bodyguards.

The incident quickly escalated beyond a mere anecdote to a diplomatic conundrum. The Kremlin steadfastly claimed the ring was a gift, a narrative initially supported by Kraft himself, albeit under significant pressure from the U.S. government.

In Jeff Benedict’s revealing book 'The Dynasty', it's detailed how a phone call from then-President George Bush swayed Kraft into the uncomfortable decision of officially declaring the ring a gift. The rationale was to avoid further straining the delicate relationship between the United States and Russia.

Kraft's public statement, made under duress, praised Putin as a "knowledgeable sports fan" and generously framed the handover of the ring as a gesture of respect towards Russian leadership and its people. This narrative, however, took a sharp turn in 2013 when Kraft revisited the incident. Speaking to the New York Post, he recounted his attempt to retrieve the ring, only to watch Putin pocket it and leave, protected by KGB agents.

The Kremlin retorted by labeling Kraft’s recantation as peculiar, insisting the ring was indeed a heartfelt gift. A spokesperson for Putin, who claimed to have been an eyewitness, described Kraft’s allegations as odd, emphasizing the ring was given freely as a gift.

This incident, while it might seem trivial in the grand scheme of global politics, underscores the complex interplay of power, diplomacy, and personal attachments. As we gear up for another Super Bowl, the tale of Kraft’s Super Bowl ring serves as a reminder of the unpredictable moments that can emerge from the intersection of sports and international relations.

Considering the recent two years' invasion of Ukraine, Putin should probably not expect any future Super Bowl winners to be particularly interested in showing him their championship ring, so Robert Kraft's ring might just remain the only one in Putin's collection.