We certainly behave in strange ways, don't we?
One of the most important lessons taught - and learned - on any field of play is one of sportsmanship. Respect for yourself, respect for your opponent, being gracious in defeat and humble in victory. It is the at the very foundation of what is taught in sports and everyday life today, and certainly what most athletes try to follow every time someone steps into competition's way.
And then in football, we try to rip the other guys' heads off. Or at the very least, do whatever it takes to win. And then celebrate wildly once we do.
The very nature of competition suggests the contest against another person or team in an effort to gain ground, territory or prestige in order to be recognized as the ultimate victor as a hard thing to do. Many times in sports, the competition is fierce. We know how brutal the NFL can be, especially in a literal sense. And through these struggles, after gaining a competitive advantage or victory over an opponent we're supposed to be humble? Gracious? Even courteous?
Please. Let's be real. The bling from the ring is the thing.
Check out our favorite photos from the Super Bowl XLIX Championship Ring ceremony held at the home of Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft on Sunday, June 14, 2015.
This is not to demean sportsmanship. Competition should always be conducted in a civilized fashion, as there have been rules of engagement for centuries - even in war. Instead, celebrating an ultimate athletic victory is a moment to enjoy, to savor, to re-live even if for a fleeting moment in order to recognize the struggles involved in trying to reach a common athletic goal. Our tradition of championship rings, begun decades ago when the 1922 New York Giants received rings for their World Series win over the New York Yankees, serves as a validation point for going through those struggles and achieving an ultimate victory.
You've heard the term "humblebrag?" Well, this is it. In sports, the ring is the thing. The "bling" in that ring is what makes the achievement stand out. In the NFL, the Vince Lombardi Trophy signifies the ultimate team victory...but the ring is personal. Individuals sacrifice for the common good and goals of the team, and if the team is fortunate to be standing at the end of it all, the ring validates that personal sacrifice. It is a symbol of something that can never be taken away, something that can never be erased.
It is our own personal historic moment, being a part of something truly great. Some around these parts have been a part of something great four times now, which should also be recognized for what it is. It's actually pretty cool. It's longevity. It's perseverance. It's sustained excellence.
And there's nothing strange about that kind of behavior in Foxboro, is there?
Check out photos of the Patriots Super Bowl XLIX Championship ring.
Five things you might not know about the bling in that ring
Yes, it's big. And shiny. To the victors go the spoils.
We've detailed the particulars of the Patriots' Big Ring celebrating the Super Bowl XLIX title elsewhere, but just so you've got a little more ammunition for the water cooler in discussion with fans from other teams:
- Ring manufacturer Josten's is based in Attleboro, MA. And Josten's has produced 31 of the 49 Super Bowl rings awarded, dating back to the very first one given out to members of the Green Bay Packers - before the game was even called the "Super Bowl."
- The NFL normally limits teams to spend around $7000 per ring, and pays for the first 150 rings made. As in life, however, all things appear to be negotiable.
- The 205 diamonds on this ring, amounting to 4.85 total carats, make it the largest, heaviest, and most expensive ring ever produced for a Super Bowl champion.
- The Packers became the first team to receive a ring that wasn't made of gold. Green Bay awarded platinum rings following their win in Super Bowl XLV.
- You can't just walk in off of the street to see them, but the NFL headquarters in New York has a display of every winning Super Bowl ring. Included is a movable magnifying glass that allows viewers to see every special detail.
It seems that the sheer size and weight of many championship rings of late, including the Patriots' ring, might make it more difficult for normal wear or display. Even for the big guys with bigger hands. Somehow, that's a problem certain to be way down the list of priorities to tackle for the coming days and weeks.
We're talking about practice, again
With the Patriots moving into their mandatory three-day mini-camp this week, it's fair to assume there will be several areas of focus for the team to improve upon - the sizing of the Super Bowl rings notwithstanding.
One spot sure to get its share of attention will be the secondary. Gone to free agency are last season's starting cornerbacks in Darrelle Revis and Brandon Browner, and nickel-back Kyle Arrington. There are some new names (Bradley Fletcher, Robert McClain, Darryl Roberts, Justin Green, Derek Cox), numbers and faces to learn, and new jobs to be won.
Young returnees Logan Ryan and Malcolm Butler, while showing plenty of ability in the recent past, will also need plenty of help in defending the opposing passing games they'll see from teams like Pittsburgh, Indianapolis, Dallas and Denver this season.
If you've wondered about the current revolving door leading into and out of the Patriots' secondary, perhaps the coaches already feel the players they have are better than the players they could get?
One additional name to consider for this mix might be Tarrell Brown. Brown played 14 games last season with the Oakland Raiders, finishing with 55 tackles and four passes defensed before injuring his foot and ending the season on injured reserve. Prior to his single season in Oakland, he started 47 games on the other side of the Bay for the San Francisco 49ers over seven seasons.
He doesn't yet have a deal with a new team for 2015, and by all accounts still possesses some speed and agility, and can contribute on special teams. He's been a tough player. As teams approach the start of training camp next month and find themselves with a need in the defensive backfield, Brown is one of the top veteran free agents available.
He shouldn't be without a job for long.
*John Rooke is an author and award-winning broadcaster, and is beginning his 23rd year as the Patriots' stadium voice. Currently serving in several media capacities - which include hosting "Patriots Playbook" on Patriots.com Radio - Rooke has broadcast college football and basketball locally and nationally for 27 seasons and is a member of the Rhode Island Radio Hall of Fame. *
Follow him on Twitter - @JRbroadcaster