How long will it take before you’re in scuba gear?
There’s a Ravens Super Bowl XLVII ring floating somewhere in Middle River, an offshoot of the Chesapeake Bay.
Here’s the crazy story:
As I’ve said before, not only did the players and coaches get Super Bowl rings, Ravens full-time team employees did as well.
On Aug. 3, Ravens Receptionist Toni Lekas and her boyfriend, Chuck Lykes, were at a boat party on the river. Toni brought her ring because when you’ve got one, the ring is actually the intended invite and surely the guest of honor.
Toni went to leave the party at about 8 p.m. and asked to have her ring back. Chuck said a friend was on his way to come see the ring and asked if he could give it back the next day. Admittedly against her better judgment, Toni left it.
The party moved to a pier at the Middle River Yacht Club in Essex, Md., just off Hopkins Creek. (Are you writing this down?)
It was a windy night and as the group tried to dock the boat, it kept pulling away. Somebody called for Chuck, who was about to put the ring away below deck, to grab a rope.
As Chuck pulled the rope, it hooked on the ring on his pinky finger. When the rope tugged, it pulled the ring off. It flew into the dark night.
“You know how you see in movies when things happen in slow-mo?” Chuck said. “It felt like it took an hour for that thing to drop in the water.”
Chuck freaked out and started screaming. He immediately leapt into the water and frantically felt around for the ring. Problem was, he was in about nine feet of water in the pitch black. It was practically impossible.
Chuck searched in the water for close to three hours. He and friend Phil Misey stayed by the dock all night, afraid to leave it for fear that somebody else might find the ring. Meanwhile, Toni woke up at 3 a.m. from a terrible dream.
“I just felt like I was never going to see it again,” she said.
When Toni woke up the next morning, she was still worried about the ring. She sent Chuck a text message, “If you’re playing golf today, play well. But that ring better be OK!”
When the 56-year-old Chuck got that text, he immediately broke down crying.
“I felt about an inch tall,” Chuck said. “I felt like an idiot.”
Chuck hired a diver the next morning. What made the search difficult is a very thick layer of silt at the bottom of the river, so there’s no finding it with your eyes. It’s purely on touch, and there are a lot of shells and other red herrings.
Chuck and the diver spent the entire day searching for the ring, getting more and more desperate. They came up empty. Now came the toughest part: Telling Toni.
Chuck got home at about 5 p.m., looking white as a ghost. Toni chided him for not answering his phone all day.
With that, Chuck began crying again.
“I lost your ring,” he said.
Toni’s response: “Don’t repeat what you just said.”
With that, she stormed outside.
“I never cried,” Toni said. “I was too mad to cry.”
Later on she told Chuck that if the ring wasn’t found or if she couldn’t get a replacement, she honestly didn’t think their relationship would survive.
The diver went down three more times in search of the ring and still couldn’t find it. Embarrassed, Toni alerted the Ravens of the gaffe and they got in contact with the NFL. The league must approve the creation of any additional rings.
Luckily for Toni (and Chuck), the league approved. Toni had insured the ring, which paid for a replacement. She is set to get her new ring any day, and she and Chuck are still together.
“It was such a relief,” Toni said. “Now it’s going in a safety deposit box. I’m not going to keep it at home, it’s just too stressful.”
So that’s the story. Are you in the Chesapeake Bay by now?
Before you toss on the flippers, I have a word of caution. If you do find the ring, it’s not finders keepers. By law, you’re required to notify Toni that you have the ring. If returned, she would give it to the insurance company.
And I have a feeling it will eventually turn up. Former Jets center John Schmitt’s Super Bowl III ring was eventually returned to him – 40 years after he lost it off the coast of Waikiki Beach in Hawaii.
And with that, let the treasure hunt begin!