There are four ways to get a Super Bowl ring. One is to be a great athlete and land a job with a great team. Second is to coach that team. Third is to own that team. Fourth is to be Vladimir Putin. When New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft visited Russia with friend and Citigroup CEO Sandy Weill in 2005, Kraft showed Weill his recently acquired ring for Super Bowl XXXIX. Weill then had a perfectly dreadful idea. “Show it to Putin,” he said. “I took out the ring and showed it to him, and he put it on and he goes, ‘I can kill someone with this ring,'” Kraft said while telling the story during an awards gala speech. “I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out.”
Ah, rank hath its privileges! Naturally Weill wanted the $25,000 ring back. So he contacted the Bush White House. They were not so sanguine. They didn’t think it would be such a good idea to start World War III over a ring. So they told Kraft to announce instead it was a gift.
“I really didn’t [want to]. I had an emotional tie to the ring, it has my name on it. I don’t want to see it on eBay. There was a pause on the other end of the line, and the voice repeated, ‘It would really be in the best interest if you meant to give the ring as a present.'” So he did.
Vladimir Putin, murderer of journalists and defecting spies, hacker of other nations’ elections, megalomaniacal oppressor of the people, ring thief, says what he wants, does what he wants, takes what he wants, and the world be damned. Is it any wonder that he and Donald Trump are such good friends? Then there’s the time Putin stole a 240 year old bottle of wine worth $94,000. But that’s a tale for another time, perhaps.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.