Gerry Sandusky has just the place for his Super Bowl ring

Gerry Sandusky takes you to the third floor of his northern Baltimore County home and points to a book shelf. "There it is," he says.

Huh? That's where he keeps his Ravens Super Bowl ring?

Where's the glass display case with the spotlight shining on it? And the velvet ropes to keep the riff-raff at arm's length? And maybe a glowering security goon standing by so no one tries any funny business?

I have made this trip to see what Sandusky, the long-time WBAL-TV sports director and Ravens broadcaster, plans to do with his Super Bowl ring.

Sure, the Ravens players might occasionally wear theirs if they go to NFL functions or want to show off on TV gigs or flash some bling while clubbing.

But what does a civilian like the 51-year-old Sandusky do with the gaudy bauble he received last week at that big private ceremony at The Castle?

Let's start with this: he has no plans to actually wear it.

"The problem with the ring," Sandusky says, "is if you wear it, that's all anybody sees."

Oh, this baby's a show-stopper, all right.

It's the size of a walnut, for one thing. And it's made of gold and diamonds, with the Ravens' logo and two Lombardi Trophies on the face.

It's not something you wear to your next cookout. Or anywhere you don't want to be the screaming center of attention. It'd be like wearing the Hope diamond around your neck and when somebody notices it, saying: "What, this little thing?"

"And really?" adds Sandusky. "If you're wearing a Super Bowl ring, you look a little bit like: 'Who's the [guy] with the over-sized ring?' Like, come on. If you're the pope, you wear a ring that people come up and kiss. I get that. But if you're a play-by-play guy in the NFL ... it's just sooo over-the-top to wear out."

So what Sandusky plans to do is keep it next to the Super Bowl ring his dad left him after he died in 2006, the ring awarded to John Sandusky when he was the Baltimore Colts' offensive line coach and they beat the Dallas Cowboys, 16-13, in Super Bowl V.

"I remember him bringing it home and we all wanted to try it on," said Sandusky, who was 10 at the time. "I remember my little hand swimming in it. ... I just remember the overwhelming feeling of pride that my father had a Super Bowl ring."

Oh, did we mention there are actually three Super Bowl rings in the Sandusky family now?

That's because Katy Sandusky, 22, a former full-time intern in the Ravens' marketing department, also received a ring, along with other staffers, at last Friday's ceremony. This, her father said, made it "the all-time greatest daddy-daughter date in the history of Western civilization."

For his part, Sandusky has made it his mission to share his ring with as many people as possible. He took it to work at WBAL Monday at the behest of some Ravens fans and let everyone in the building try it on and have their picture taken.

The reaction?

"It's just a jaw-dropper," Sandusky says. "People put it on and think: 'Man, my arm's gonna come off, it's so heavy.' And gradually it sinks in what it represents: the whole Super Bowl run. The fact that this town celebrated a Super Bowl season — again. That crazy run, all the upsets, that win in Denver, the lights going out in New Orleans, the parade — it was unbelievable.

"All those things that just kind of steam-rolled and steam-rolled. And that ring kind of, I think, crystallizes it for everybody. It's almost like a Superman-power thing: when people put that ring on their finger, all those memories come flashing back."

The ring means something special to Sandusky, too, something more than just a great, shining football season in this town.

"Our name has been through a rough year and a half," he says quietly, pointing to the word 'Sandusky' on the ring. "So to open the box and see that name on a Super Bowl ring ... Because to me, that doesn't just represent the good days. That represents enduring the bad days, too."

The bad days weren't that long ago, when the Baltimore sportscaster was often mistaken for former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky, embroiled in a serial child sexual abuse scandal that riveted — and horrified — the nation.

At the height of it, Gerry Sandusky says, he was getting 400-700 tweets a day "inviting me to spend eternity in hell. Plus emails, letters — I got more hate mail than junk mail. And the inevitable stare — I called it the Sandusky Stare — from people that hear your name and they stare at you.

"And you can hear the wheels turning in their head. They're wondering, 'Are you related?' And I would say 'No, no relation.' Gerry with a G became my stock answer. Just to defuse. Because I knew people were wondering. And they still do."

Then the conversation turns back to the ring that symbolizes the good days, a ring you don't have to wear to know how special it is.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

Listen to Kevin Cowherd Tuesdays at 7:20 a.m. on 105.7 The Fan's "The Norris and Davis Show."

 
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