Ex-Packer Brown's story of loss has painful ring

March 12, 2000|By JOHN STEADMAN

If you know the whereabouts of two of Tom Brown's championship football rings, which vanished 30 years ago, commemorating his success with the Green Bay Packers, he invites you to call his toll-free number: 1-877-366-4256.

The former Packers safety, a second-round draft choice in 1963 out of the University of Maryland, who also was a first baseman for the Washington Senators that year, said the rings, one from the 1965 NFL title season and the other from the first Super Bowl, disappeared when he was absent from his home in White Oak while involved in a divorce proceeding.

"No one has ever had the legal right to have these rings in their possession, at any time, for any reason, except me," Brown said. "The stolen rings have the name Brown engraved on them and also my old jersey number, 40."

Brown said a reward is offered for information regarding the rings. He also emphasized if they are returned, there will be no questions asked and details of their recovery will remain confidential.

Now 59 and a coach and teacher living near Ocean City, Brown does have his second Super Bowl ring, emblematic of a win over the Oakland Raiders in 1968. "I fortunately had that one on my finger, so it wasn't stolen," he said.

Asked to describe what the missing rings look like, in case someone should find them under the seat of an old sofa or behind a loose brick in a wall, he went on to elaborate:

"I'd know them in a second. A lot of hard work went into earning them. The 1965 ring, that's the year before the first Super Bowl was played, is silver-plated, has one diamond and a green emerald, the Packer logo and the 23-12 score of the game against the Cleveland Browns.

"The first Super Bowl ring, when we beat the Kansas City Chiefs, is gold-plated and has one of coach Vince Lombardi's slogans inscribed."

Championship rings are the goal of almost every athlete. And the Packers of Lombardi, featuring such Hall of Fame players as Bart Starr, Willie Davis, Jim Taylor, Paul Hornung, Herb Adderly, Forrest Gregg, Willie Wood, Henry Jordan and Ray Nitschke, were an awesome force.

Brown was an integral part of the secondary and very respected, not only for his coverage ability but for how he instinctively reacted to intercept or knock down a thrown ball.

The rings are a defining link to Brown's Packers past, so his personal mission continues, a long-shot struggle to find them. He said to replace them would probably cost upward of $15,000, but they would not be authentic, since they would be copies of the originals.

And furthermore, he couldn't afford to pay such a price. The same with engaging a private detective to see if he could pick up the trail.

Brown has circulated handbills in the White Oak-Silver Spring area, even putting them in grocery stores and office buildings, hoping for a break in the case. He asked newspapers to assist him, even now, 30 years after the fact.

Tom, desperate to find the coveted property, believes the slightest kernel of information may be of help. It's not exactly the same as searching for the Holy Grail, but in his own football world it might be.

"Maybe someone heard something they could pass on to me either confidentially or anonymously. The rings disappeared from a dresser in the bedroom. I looked there, where I always kept them, and they were gone.

"There was a court case in Montgomery County last September, but nothing could be proven about where they might be."

A witness, whom Brown earlier said had mentioned that the NFL rings had been seen, denied any such admission. But the hunt still goes on as he appeals to the public for help in recovering the stolen goods.

Perhaps a sense of honor, along with basic honesty, might be enough to return them to the rightful owner -- Tom Brown, No. 40, safety of the championship Green Bay Packers.

That toll-free number again: 1-877-366-4256.

Pub Date: 3/12/00

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