2 Rings That Make Super Bowl Bling Look Common

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Every professional athlete longs to "get a ring" by winning a championship, and earning a Super Bowl ring is certainly a rare and amazing feat. However, it's not that rare. The NFL has played 41 Super Bowls, and with over fifty people per team, that means that there are at least 2,000 or so player rings floating around out there. Plus, all manner of coaches, front-office staff, and other team employees get rings of their own, too. So while a Super Bowl ring is rare, it's got nothing on these two from European theater:

1. The Iffland-Ring

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This ring boasts a rarity that even Tolkien could appreciate: there's only one. The ring originally lived on the finger of German theater icon A.W. Iffland and features his portrait studded with small diamonds. Towards the end of his life, Iffland passed the jewelry on to fellow actor Ludwig Devrient. By tradition, the bearer is the most significant living German-speaking actor, and when he dies his will specifies the next man to wear the ring.

This line of succession hasn't always been so clean, though. According to legend, Albert Basserman, who received the ring in 1911, kept picking successors who died. After he outlived his first three choices, Basserman decided to give up and donated the ring to a museum. However, when he died in 1952, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education intervened and awarded the ring to Werner Kraub. The current holder, Swiss actor Bruno Ganz, has worn the ring since 1996.

2. Hans-Reinhart-Ring

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Similarly, the Hans-Reinhart-Ring is awarded to a luminary of the Swiss theater. It's not as rare as the Iffland-Ring, though, since the ring has been awarded annually since 1957 and each winner gets his or her own ring. Not surprisingly, the ring is named after Hans Reinhart, a wealthy playwright and poet who endowed the program.

Since its inception, the ring has grown to signify the top award in Swiss theater. Laureates have included operatic soprano Lisa Della Casa, the clown Dmitri, and actor and director Benno Besson. Current Iffland-Ring holder Bruno Ganz won the award in 1991, giving him the closest thing Swiss stagecraft has to Tom Brady's ring-encrusted knuckles.

Ethan Trex grew up idolizing Vince Coleman, and he kind of still does. Ethan co-writes Straight Cash, Homey, the Internet's undisputed top source for pictures of people in Ryan Leaf jerseys. His last mental_floss story somehow lumped together Beavis & Butthead and The Puppy Bowl.

February 2, 2008 - 4:31am
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