A phone call from 4,957 miles away solved a four decade-old football riddle.
John Schmitt, starting center in the New York Jets' dramatic win over the Baltimore Colts in Super Bowl III in 1969, was given a championship ring for his part in arguably the most important upset in NFL history.
A few years later, while on vacation in Hawaii, Schmitt took his first surfing lesson off Waikiki Beach. After being in the water for more than five hours, his prized ring fell off about a quarter-mile off shore in the Pacific Ocean.
After getting back to shore and noticing the ring was missing from his finger, Schmitt immediately jumped back into the water.
"I got a snorkel and some flippers and I went out and I dove until I was blue," Schmitt tells Hawaii News Now. "I'm not kidding you. It must have been three hours I was out there looking. I couldn't find it anywhere. I was just exhausted. I virtually could not swim or flip my legs anymore and I just went in brokenhearted."
Schmitt assumed the treasure was lost at sea. The 6-4, 250-pound pride of Hofstra played center for the Jets from 1964 to 1973 before ending his career with Dan Devine's Green Bay Packers in 1974.
Turns out John Ernstberg, a Waikiki lifeguard, found a ring in the water years ago and, without even looking closely at it, put it away in a small box.
After Ernstberg's death in 1991 and his wife's passing in 1995, their belongings went to John Ernstberg's great niece Cindy Saffery and her husband. After some time, they decided to have the ring checked out by a professional jeweler to find out if it was real.
Mind-boggingly, it turned out to be a real Super Bowl ring -- the one John Schmitt had lost over 40 years ago in the South Pacific.
Brenda Reichel, the jeweler who examined the ring, determined it could be worth as much as $10,000.
Instead of selling the jewel, Saffery and Reichel contacted the Jets front office with the exciting news. They were able to get in touch with Schmitt, who lives on Long Island.
"It's a legacy," Samuel Saffery explained. "This is not something that you just can buy off the street. This is something that you earn, so for Mr. Schmitt he earned this ring so by right it'll make me feel good to put it personally back into his hand."
You can imagine Schmitt's reaction to the call.
"I couldn't believe it," Schmitt told Hawaii News Now. "I mean I honestly couldn't believe it. I mean 40 years, that that ring was found is a bloody miracle. It really is a miracle, you know."
Schmitt is so excited to get his ring back, he's offered to fly the couple from Hawaii to New York to thank them in person.
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