This story is completely surreal, but you already know that because you clicked on it and read the headline “Robert Kraft: Vladimir Putin Stole My Super Bowl Ring,” so let’s just skip ahead to the facts. Our story takes place during Kraft’s 2005 trip to Russia.
“I took out the ring and showed it to [Putin], and he put it on and he goes, ‘I can kill someone with this ring,'” Kraft said at an event this week, via the New York Post. “I put my hand out and he put it in his pocket, and three KGB guys got around him and walked out.” [CBS Sports]
After that happened, and in the years since, Kraft has maintained that he gave Putin the ring as a gift, but now he reveals that he actually wanted to push to get the ring back and was dissuaded my a representative from the Bush White House.
“It would really be in the best interest of US-Soviet relations if you meant to give the ring as a present,” Kraft said he was told on the White House call. “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.'”
See, the thing about this story is that there are layers. The top one, the one right there on the surface, is the part where this is a thing that actually happened even though it sounds like the cold open of an Archer episode. This a very special gift that the universe has given to you, and you should never take it for granted.
The next layer is the one where you realize that Vladimir Putin has lived the type of life where his reaction to someone he doesn’t know handing him a bejeweled ring that commemorates something of great importance is to slip it on, think of murder, say that murder-related thought out loud, then pocket it and walk away. Even if his decision to leave with it was a mix-up based on years of powerful men giving him expensive gifts, this is fascinating. It’s probably not a “good” thing that there’s a powerful world leader who looks at a fancy piece of jewelry and jumps straight to homicide, but it’s definitely fascinating.
Then you keep digging and reach a layer where you start thinking about Robert Kraft flying home after the trip, confused and sad on his private jet, trying to figure out what just happened and what he can do about it. I imagine him just staring straight ahead in disbelief as people periodically walk up to him and say things like “He can’t do that. You earned that ring. You know what? You should call the White House.” Then I imagine him making the same face after the phone call where the United States government basically told him the ring was gone for good. Put yourself in his shoes for a minute. He must have been so bummed out.
But the real gold here is a few feet down, beyond all the stuff about misunderstandings and diplomacy, when you picture a remix of “Ante Up” that features Vlamidir Putin doing a guest verse about stealing Super Bowl rings from NFL owners. Store that in a box somewhere inside your brain, label the box “Fond Memories,” and save it all for a particularly rainy day. You’ll thank me later.
Photo credit: Shutterstock/plavevski