More Than Just Bling

July 21st, 2021

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BY IRA KAUFMAN

Put a ring on it.

That’s precisely what the Bucs intend to do tomorrow before the team reports to training camp in defense of an NFL championship.

It’s been a long road for Mike Evans

There might be some red carpet interviews available as players arrive, but the ceremony itself will be a private affair.

The 2020 season may have officially ended Feb. 7, but the real conclusion comes when players, coaches, staff and executives assemble for a lavish affair. Drinks and laughs will flow in equal measure as the Bucs bid farewell to a historic quest.

Awarding Super Bowl rings didn’t always merit such an extravagant occasion.

Packers Hall of Fame linebacker Dave Robinson stood in his driveway when he received his Super Bowl I ring — from the mailman. Yes, special delivery. No swank party for Vince Lombardi’s crew.

That initial Super Bowl ring was engraved with three words: harmony, courage, valor. There should have been a fourth word added — frugality.

Three decades later, the champion Packers held a private ceremony to celebrate Brett Favre’s only Super Bowl victory. When Reggie White tried the ring on, he encountered a big problem.

It was way too small.

As White began to fume, someone in the Green Bay organization reminded him that wives were also being feted with rings. Oops.

“It was the most emotional night of my life, other than watching my kids being born,” said Packers All-Pro safety LeRoy Butler. “It’s a feeling like this will complete my legacy.”

Tears Will Flow

Emotions are sure to be on display when the Bucs gather. The previous time the Bucs won the Super Bowl, they staged their ring ceremony in June at the end of mandatory minicamp.

“Ring ceremonies are special,” says Derrick Brooks. “I’ll never forget the trick played on Dr. Diaco.”

Joseph Diaco served as Tampa Bay’s chief team physician from 1978 until his retirement in 2009.

“They served Joe with an empty box, with no ring in it and I remember how crazy he went,” Brooks says.

Tom Brady’s seventh ring is particularly special because he earned it in Tampa, far from the immense shadow cast by Bill Belichick. For Buc veterans like Lavonte David and Mike Evans, it’s the culmination of a journey marked by so many valleys.

“It’s away safely,” Brooks says of his Super Bowl 37 ring. “I do look at it and obviously I wear it for my big speaking engagements. It’s one of the things people want to gravitate to because a lot of what I have to say is really about what went into that ring I’m wearing. I give them the visual of what that Super Bowl ring meant to me, not only that season but the process of those years of building.”

Nine years in the making for Lavonte David

Like Brooks, some current Bucs had to experience tumult and agita along the way.

David was a second-year player in 2013, one of the most traumatic seasons in franchise history. The Bucs opened 0-8 under Greg Schiano, the team faced a MRSA outbreak and Josh Freeman was benched and ultimately released.

Although Evans enjoyed an outstanding rookie year in 2014, the Bucs finished 2-14 under Lovie Smith, tanking the season finale to ensure they would be guaranteed the first overall pick in the draft.

When Evans, David, Will Gholston, Ali Marpet and Donovan Smith try on those rings, the dark days will be a distant memory. Like Brooks, they have overcome.

“I remembered those years of building, whether it was the heartbreak of losing Coach Dungy, losing to Philly, to being challenged by Jon Gruden and embracing his enthusiasm, to a teammate, Joe Jurevicius, and what he went through,” Brooks says.

As the Bucs gather to put their majestic 2020 season to bed, they should heed the words of Hall of Fame coach Bill Parcells, addressing his 1986 Super Bowl champs.

“The rest of your life,” Parcells told his New York Giants, “nobody can ever tell you that you couldn’t do it because you did it.”


7 Responses to “More Than Just Bling”

  1. Medicated Pete Says:

    Where was Mike Evans @ The Biden House? Mike also removed Tampa Bay, FL & Buccaneers from his Instagram headline. Now, it just says “Galveston”.

  2. Alexander Nascimento Says:

    Thanks, Sage!!!

    Go Bucs!!!

  3. Colin in Canada Says:

    They should have done the rings after minicamp.

  4. Bucobill999 Says:

    Who cares pete you negative c s’er

  5. Jim Says:

    Pete’s off his meds (again).

  6. Buczilla Says:

    Great stuff Ira.

  7. Razor Ramone Says:

    Hurry back Ira. Great column.