On February 4th, America will get to watch the Philadelphia Eagles and the New England Patriots face off in the 2018 Super Bowl. The two teams will play for honor and glory—and also for the Lombardi Trophy.
Each year, the winning team of the Super Bowl is presented with the solid silver trophy to mark their victory. And while everyone is talking about their favorite players and which team they think will win, we’d like to focus on the making of this iconic trophy.
The Lombardi Trophy originated in 1966 when NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle was having lunch with Tiffany & Co vice president Oscar Riedner. The trophy was conceived as the men enjoyed their meal and Riedner sketched out a design on a cocktail napkin of what would become one of the sports industry’s most recognizable trophies. The first trophy was produced in Tiffany & Co’s Newark, New Jersey facility. Subsequent trophies have been produced in the company’s Parsippany, New Jersey and Cumberland, Rhode Island facilities.
In 1967, the Green Bay Packers were the first NFL team to win the trophy, which was inscribed with the words “World Professional Football Championship.” Three years later in 1970, the trophy was renamed in memory of NFL head coach Vince Lombardi who lost his battle with cancer. Lombardi led the Green Bay Packers to win the first two Super Bowl games. The trophy was first presented as the Vince Lombardi Trophy during Super Bowl V when the Baltimore Colts beat the Dallas Cowboys.
Unlike other sports trophies like the Stanley Cup that passes from team to team, a new Lombardi Trophy is made each year by Tiffany & Co. The process takes four months and begins with large sheets of high-grade silver sourced from Italy. The craftsmen who work on these trophies use skills that stem directly back to the 1800s.
The complete trophy—made entirely of silver—stands about 22 inches tall and weighs nearly seven pounds. It’s appearance resembles a regulation football mounted in a kicking position on a stand with three concave sides. The base is inscribed with “Vince Lombardi Trophy” and the Roman numerals that represent that year’s Super Bowl, along with the NFL logo. It might seem strange that Tiffany & Co—a well-known jewelry company—makes football trophies, yet the enterprise is explained in a quote from Tiffany executive Tom O’Rourke: “The core mission of the company is to celebrate important moments in people’s lives. I can’t imagine a more important moment for an athlete than receiving the championship trophy on the field after a victory.”
Once the trophy is complete, it is brought to the Hall of Fame for display until the day of the Super Bowl, when it travels to the game location. The winning team is presented with the trophy on the field and after celebrations, the trophy is returned to Tiffany & Co for a cleaning and a final engraving of the game’s date and location, the participating teams, and the game’s final score. Then the trophy is sent back to the winning team and is often kept by the team’s owner.
About $3,500 worth of silver is used to create these trophies, though the craftsmanship and symbolism raise the value substantially. Some sources value the Lombardi Trophy at $12,000 while others say it’s actually worth much more—up to $50,000! That makes the Lombardi Trophy one of the most expensive trophies in the entire sports industry.
Will you be tuning in to the Super Bowl in February? Which team are you rooting for?