Super Bowl 49 is just about here, which means some lucky ring-maker is incredibly excited and about to be incredibly busy. The Lombardi Trophy is the symbol of winning the NFL's top championship, but that goes to the owners themselves and is property of the team. Players and staff are given Super Bowl rings as collectible mementos to symbolize their victory (and, in the case of the losing team, their loss -- more on that later).
Super Bowl rings are, more than anything, simply impressive to look at. They're totally impractical to wear and clash with every outfit known to mankind, but there's no mistaking them at any visible distance. You know what they are and you know what they mean: that person was part of a Super Bowl-winning team.
But what role did that person play, really? You might wonder if it's a player or coach, and then you might wonder if other people get rings. The answer to that question is yes: a whole lot of people get rings. That's because a whole lot of people are involved in the running of a professional football team, as it happens.
There are a lot of variables in play as to who gets rings, but generally you can expect every player on the 53-man roster, the entire coaching staff and the front office to earn rings. The NFL pays for the cost of 150 rings for the winning team, with a max cost of around $7,000 per unit, depending on the cost of gold and diamonds at the time. That usually covers the bulk of people the team wants to gives the rings to, but it can go above that number if it buys the extra rings.
Other players who can receive rings include practice squad players, players on injured reserve and players who were on the roster at some point during the season. Teams will often consider everybody who contributed at any point in the season worthy of a ring.
But it doesn't end there -- teams can really give them out to whoever they please. There have been fan raffles and things of that nature. At the core, you can be assured that they're not stingy with them when it comes to front office staff, players and coaches. That doesn't mean that they always end up with the same rings, however.
There's not always information on this kind of thing out there, but there have been examples of teams giving "lesser" rings to front office staff or other non-coach, non-player personnel. Again, the main Super Bowl rings are massive, expensive things that can way 100 grams or more and include more than 100 diamonds -- the Green Bay Packers Super Bowl XLV ring had more than 100 diamonds, and was made out of platinum, which is more expensive than gold.
As far as the losing team goes, it actually gets a ring as well. It's sometimes referred to as the AFC or NFC Championship ring. It typically is less gaudy, and there's also less information about them, but a lot of people didn't know they existed. Whatever the case, you can find a nice gallery of all of the Super Bowl rings and quite a few of the AFC or NFC Championship rings over at Sports-Rings.com.