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A pirate’s Treasure

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have 54 reasons they will never forget Super Bowl XXXVII.

Saturday at the A’ la Carte Event Pavilion in Tampa, the world champion Buccaneers celebrated winning Super Bowl XXXVII by throwing themselves a private black-tie party where they were the recipients of $16,000 Tiffany & Co. Super Bowl Rings encrusted with 54 diamonds.

“This is a great reunion, something we will never forget,” said Jon Gruden, the Bucs’ head coach, before the event started. “The camaraderie, the unity that we had, the experiences that we shared of winning a world championship; to share that one more time together is something we can’t wait to go through.”

After a lavish meal and a highlight film of Super Bowl XXXVII, players John Lynch, Brad Johnson, Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp took the stage, along with Gruden and Bucs owner Malcolm Glazer, to talk about the evening and their accomplishments.

“It was nice that they kept (the event) in the family,” Lynch said. “It was a team event, so I think guys could kind of let some of their true emotions out in terms of what this means to them in their own way.”

After the speeches, Tiffany & Co. boxes were distributed to all of the tables and inside were what all the Bucs were waiting for, their Super Bowl Rings.

“We had a little presentation at the end where basically the waiters came to the tables and passed them out and everybody opened them,” Rich McKay, general manager of the Bucs, said.

The rings are only the second Super Bowl Rings made by Tiffany & Co., and close collaboration between the Glazer family, who owns the Buccaneers, and Tiffany & Co. produced a rather traditional look for the ring, which was what the family wanted.

“We wanted a bit more of a traditional ring, a ring that is going be good today and tomorrow, for 10 years, 20 years, 25 years,” McKay said. “That is where we came up with the idea of saying lets stick with the Lombardi, in that everybody will know that is a world championship ring.”

The Lombardi Trophy, depicted in diamonds atop the 14 karat ring, is in front of a football with even more diamonds. The left side of the ring showcases the name of the ring’s owner, the year, a pirate ship, a palm tree and the Buccaneers logo. On the right side of the ring is the NFL logo, the Super Bowl XXXVII Logo and the score of the game. “I think it means a lot more than just a piece of jewelry,” Lynch said. “You find that, at least tonight, it really means a lot more than that and I think that has been the feeling of my teammates.”

Among Lynch’s teammates who received a ring, was long snapper Ryan Benjamin. Benjamin, a USF alumnus who graduated in 2000, has been with the Bucs since Oct. 14, 2002 after they released former long snapper Morris Unutoa.

Benjamin, who became the first Bull ever to become a Buccaneer, signed with the Tampa Bay Bucs out of college, but bounced between the Chicago Bears and New England Patriots before coming full circle and signing with the Bucs.

USF is coincidentally making strong ties to the Buccaneers. Bulls Athletic Director Lee Roy Selmon, like Benjamin, was a first; he was the Bucs’ No. 1 draft pick in 1976, making Selmon the first ever Buccaneer. Unlike Benjamin, however, the Super Bowl ring eluded Selmon, who retired in 1986.

Benjamin has been a long snapper since seventh grade, was one of the original USF football members in 1996 and has become the only USF graduate ever to play in the Super Bowl, but not the first to receive a ring. Kenyatta Jones and Scott McCready received rings when the Patriots won, but they never played. Benjamin has also become the first long snapper ever to record a tackle in a playoff game.