Dave Robinson turned 81 on May 3. The former Green Bay Packers linebacker and Pro Football Hall of Famer doesn’t know how much time he has left, although the plan is to live until he’s 110.
“I think I have 29 years, but maybe not,” Robinson said.
It’s that “maybe not” part that recently got him thinking. He has several valuable football possessions from a decorated college and pro career, and perhaps it was time to let them go to help family members who could put the proceeds to use.
Robinson has decided to auction his Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II rings, along with approximately 30 other items, in Heritage Auctions’ Summer Platinum Night Sports Auction on Aug. 27-28 in Dallas.
He’s not the first Packers player or family member from that era to let go of at least one Super Bowl ring. Some of the more noteworthy ones include fellow Pro Football Hall of Famers Ray Nitschke and Jerry Kramer.
Nitschke’s Super Bowl II ring was auctioned for $121,324 in 2020, while his Super Bowl I ring sold privately in 2011 for an undisclosed amount.
Kramer’s Super Bowl I ring fetched $125,475 in 2016, two years before he was enshrined in Canton.
Fuzzy Thurston had his Super Bowl II replacement ring auctioned for $50,788 in 2011, a sale ordered by the US government because of $1.7 million owed in back taxes.
There have been a few others, but player rings from the first two Super Bowls remain scarce.
Former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor’s Super Bowl XXV ring is the record for the highest price paid for a Super Bowl ring after it was auctioned for $230,401 in 2012.
Robinson’s rings each are estimated to sell for at least $100,000. The original diamonds in both rings have been replaced. His late wife, Elaine, used them decades ago to make earrings.
“Any time a member of a pro hall of fame decides to offer their collection of mementos that they have kept for decades, it’s a very special thing for the hobby,” said Heritage consignment director Chris Nerat, a Wisconsin native who lives in Green Bay during the football season. “It being a former player for what is widely recognized as the most storied franchise in the NFL and being a Pro Football Hall of Famer, this is easily one of the most significant player collections from the gridiron to ever hit the auction block.”
Robinson said he’s not auctioning his possessions because he needs money.
He’s happy living in his apartment in Akron, Ohio, and he still has his pension from the NFL. He also earns paychecks during the year by appearing at memorabilia shows to sign autographs, including the National Sports Collectors Convention in Atlantic City at the end of the month.
“What am I going to do with the stuff?” Robinson said. “It’s just sitting around and taking up space. When I die, it’s just going to go on the market anyway. I might as well get some use out of it. The big thing is that I have a granddaughter in law school, and she needs all the help she can get. I want to take care of her, and my grandson, too.”
Still, he had to think long and hard before handing over part of his collection.
There is one item that he’s had second thoughts about. It’s the Super Bowl I ladies ring gifted to the players’ wives after the win over the Kansas City Chiefs.
It bothered Robinson that he let it go, so much that he even thought about calling and saying he wanted it back. It’s one of the memories he has of Elaine, who died in 2007.
But he did keep the coffee and tea set she was given for the Super Bowl II win, although he joked that Elaine and the other wives were upset they weren’t stainless.
As for his Super Bowl rings, it’s the memories of winning those championships that remain far more valuable to him than the jewelry signifying it.
He used to wear them often, enough that the engravings wore down and he had to send them back to Jostens to get polished. When eventually they wore down again, he stopped wearing them.
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Robinson takes most pride in his Super Bowl I ring, and for good reason. Most Packers fans know about the play he made at the end of the 1966 NFL championship game, in which his near sack of Dallas Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith resulted in an interception in the end zone that sealed a 34-27 win and a spot in the first Super Bowl.
Robinson was in Dallas this summer and visited the Cotton Bowl, where the game was played.
“I still consider my play against Don Meredith the most crucial play in the history of the Green Bay Packers,” Robinson said. “Without that, we don’t go to Super Bowl I. Without that, we don’t face the Kanas City Chiefs, the Dallas Cowboys do. Without that play, the Super Bowl trophy would be the Tom Landry trophy, not the Vince Lombardi trophy.
“To me, that play, people try to say the Ice Bowl (one year later) and blah, blah, blah. The Ice Bowl would have been inconsequential. It wouldn’t have meant a thing if we hadn’t made that play in Dallas against Don Meredith. If I was going to wear a Super Bowl ring, that would be the one I’d wear.”
The ring he does still wear is his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring, which will remain on his finger. He wasn’t going to part with that one for anything.
Among other items being auctioned are his game-worn cleats from Super Bowl II (estimate of at least $5,000), his 1982 Packers Hall of Fame ring ($10,000) and his 1997 College Football Hall of Fame ring ($3,000).
Nerat believes Robinson’s cleats represent the first game-used item available from Super Bowl II.
If Robinson needs a reminder of what he accomplished in football, he can just peek at all the framed articles he has documenting it.
He also has learned how others have ways of finding out. He won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
Many of the young people he meets these days don’t react much when they learn he played for the Packers or in a Super Bowl.
At least not at first.
“I’ll be at the meat counter and then they will go, ‘Oh, I just Googled you,’” Robinson said. “Then they want to talk about all this. The rings don’t mean anything to them. It’s what they find out when they Google me.
“If they don’t care (about the rings), I don’t care.”
This article originally appeared on Green Bay Press-Gazette: Packers’ Dave Robinson to auction Super Bowl I, Super Bowl II rings