April 30, 2016
Jim Brown’s 1964 championship ring, shown below, is featured in a TV segment on the Smithsonian Channel series “Sports Detectives.” (Smithsonian Channel):
One of greatest professional football players ever, Jim Brown, played a key role in the Cleveland Browns winning the 1964 NFL championship game. This was the Browns last championship. Brown was awarded a championship ring in 1965 to commemorate that title.
What happened to that championship ring is shrouded in mystery. It’s a mystery examined and reported on by the Smithsonian Channel cable series “Sports Detectives”. The episode will broadcast 9 p.m. est Sunday, May 1.
The case of the missing championship ring is one of two investigations featured in Sunday’s hour episode of “Sports Detectives.” The other story is also fascinating – whether or not a Pittsburgh fan has the actual football caught by the Steelers’ Franco Harris in the 1972 game-ending play known as the Immaculate Reception.
Jim Brown claims the championship ring was stolen during a 1966 robbery at his Cleveland home. It surfaced several years later when memorabilia collector Ray Kling purchased it from a woman claiming to be Brown’s divorced wife, Sue.
TV sports reporter Lauren Gardner, one of the cable show’s two hosts, visited Cleveland and filmed the story. At the time of the filming, Brown’s championship ring was in the possession of Josh Evans, Chairman of Lelands.com a huge sports memorabilia auction house.
Was the ring stolen in 1966? Was the woman who sold Kling the championship ring actually Brown’s ex-wife? And who legally had the real claim to ownership?
And other issues that I hope the story will address is if Brown given more than one championship ring? Also, there are salesman samples with Brown’s name on them. Is it possible someone sold a salesman sample with a real diamond in the championship ring and claimed it was the original championship ring?
“Viewers will reach their own conclusion,” Gardner said. “We followed the chain of evidence. We talked to everyone who would talk to us, and we examined this from every possible angle. I feel like we followed every path we possibly could, and it is a mystery. There are so many versions of what happened and what could have happened.”
Among those interviewed for the “Sports Detectives” investigation are Evans, Kling, NFL historian Michael Oriard, cleveland.com data analysis editor Rich Exner, former Browns player Walter Beach and Mike Freeman, author of “Jim Brown: The Fierce Life of an American Hero.” Brown declined to be interviewed for the series, but two of his lawyers, Neal Brickman and Aaron Mitchell, did speak with Gardner.
Hopefully, they reached out to memorabilia and championship ring collectors who often are confronted with headaches and challenges like the one this Brown championship ring went through.
Please remember, I buy championship rings, so if you would like to sell your ring privately, please contact me.