Modern-day 49ers 'mining' for silver in Super Bowl
|Photo courtesy of Pro Football Hall of Fame|
(Kitco News) - These 49ers are headed east in search of silver rather than west mining for gold.
We’re referring to the San Francisco 49ers, who will be playing in the Super Bowl on the opposite side of the country Sunday when they take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Miami. The winning team will get a trophy that has nearly seven pounds of sterling silver.
By contrast, the original 49ers were the hardy pioneers who headed west in search of gold in 1849, the year after the precious metal was found by James W. Marshall at Sutter’s Mill in California. The website History.com reports that some 750,000 pounds of gold worth an estimated $2 billion were mined during the California Gold Rush.
The precious-metal haul in the Super Bowl will be far less, but then the real prize is the bragging rights, of course. According to the Pro Football Hall of Fame website, the Vince Lombardi Trophy awarded to the winner is 20.75 inches tall and weighs 107.3 ounces, or just shy of seven pounds. When converting to troy ounces and multiplying by the Friday-morning price of spot silver, this means the trophy has roughly $1,750 worth of silver.
However, numerous news reports put the actual value of the trophy – when factoring in the craftsmanship and other costs – at around $50,000. The Hall of Fame website describes the trophy as a “regulation-size silver football mounted in a kicking position on a pyramid-like stand of three concave sides.”
The Vince Lombardi Trophy is made by Tiffany & Co., the only company contacted by then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle back in 1967 when he wanted the prize to be top notch. The chief designer was Oscar Riedener, who was originally from Switzerland and knew nothing about American football. He bought a football, set it on his kitchen table and stared at it while eating a bowl of cereal.
“Upon finishing his Cornflakes, he took a pair of scissors, started cutting the empty box, and transformed it into a trophy base atop which the football could sit,” the Hall of Fame website says. “Over lunch a couple of days later with Rozelle and a delegation from Tiffany’s, Riedener drew a sketch of his design on a cocktail napkin.”
Rozelle liked the idea, and this design has been the Vince Lombardi Trophy since.
By the way, History.com describes the California Gold Rush as “one of the most significant events to shape American history during the first half of the 19th century.” Thousands of 49ers with gold fever – many leaving their families behind – headed to the area around San Francisco. By the end of 1849, the non-native American population of the California territory was put at around 100,000, compared to some 800 in March 1848. Further, by the end of 1849, California applied to enter the union as a state.
If the football 49ers win the Super Bowl on Sunday, they will make history as well. They will tie the Pittsburgh Steelers and New England Patriots for the most Super Bowl wins ever – six. In fact, the 49ers have already made some history, as offensive assistant Katie Sowers is about to become the first woman to coach in a Super Bowl.
Here’s one more tidbit – Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Montana played for both teams, winning four Super Bowl rings with the 49ers but ending his career with the Chiefs. He made a prediction:
"You heard from me first,” Montana jokingly tweeted. “I guarantee my team will win the Super Bowl!"
And in doing so, his team will have “mined” some silver.