Grading the six DC championship rings

By: Joe Pohoryles

Yesterday, after the premiere of “Improbable” Part Two, the design for the Nationals’ championship rings were released. As championship rings appear to be more extravagant and flashy every year, the Nationals stayed right on trend.

The flashier the rings become, the more representative they become as well. The number of diamonds, the number of rubies, the placement of every etch and item on the ring represents something. For example, the New England Patriots’ ring from a few years ago, where the 283 diamonds represented how the team was trailing 28-3 before coming back to win Super Bowl LI.

The Nationals took that in stride, but got a bit more… creative?

The obscurity behind the math prompted some equally amusing spoofs of the ring reveal:

In any case, the ring itself looks incredible, and to mark the occasion, I will be looking back at the rings from the six championships in the city’s history (among major teams anyway). Championship ring styles have altered dramatically since the city’s first modern championship in 1978 , but in some instances, less is more.

How does the newest championship ring stack up against the rest? I will be considering three categories to score each ring before assigning it a final grade:

Appearance: Does the ring look cool?

Creativity: How unique are the details to the specific team?

Practicality: Too many bells and whistles? Too obnoxious to always wear? (10 = not obnoxious, 1 = unwearable)

1978 Washington Bullets

Grade: B+

As you can tell comparing the look of this ring to the one of the Nationals, the Bullets ring is a lot less complex. It’s just a gold ring with a single diamond in the middle. Despite its simplicity, I think it’s a good-looking championship ring, especially for that era.

The one knock against it is that the Bullets logo is on the side instead of the top, but that wasn’t anything unusual at the time. The absolute best part is the fact that they put “The Fat Lady Sings,” on the side, which refers to the team’s rally cry during that run.

Coach Dick Motta cautioned the team and fans not to get ahead of themselves when up 3-1 against the San Antonio Spurs by saying, “The opera isn’t over ’til the fat lady sings,” and continued to use it when the Bullets were underdogs in subsequent rounds.

It’s simple, it’s personalized to the team’s run, and won’t look obnoxious wearing on your hand on a day-to-day basis. If I were a member of the ’78 Bullets, I would wear this with pride every day.

Appearance: 8/10

Creativity: 8/10

Practicality: 10/10

1982 Redskins

Grade: C

As opposed to the Bullets ring, the first Redskins ring actually displays the team name on the top. The logo can only be seen on the helmet feature on the side, but that would probably be difficult to prominently construct on a ring anyway.

The burgundy outline of a football on the top adds a subtle touch, and with burgundy and gold being the team colors, gold is the perfect material for this ring. The designs on the side aren’t anything special: the usual name/number plate on one side, then a Lombardi Trophy paired with the Capitol building on the other.

The arrangement of the diamonds on the front almost makes the football look like an eye, which would be cool if an eye had anything to do with the team, but I’m thinking that’s just a coincidence. This just looks like a standard championship ring of the time; nothing flashy, but nothing amazing either.

Appearance: 7/10

Creativity: 5/10

Practicality: 10/10

1987 Redskins

Grade: D+

With the second Super Bowl ring, the top was slightly more detailed than the last one, as there are two Lombardi Trophies on the border. The football design in the center remained, with two center diamonds as opposed to one; yet another representation of the team’s second Super Bowl.

Instead of the burgundy outline, the football is outlined with small rubies in what appears to be an attempt to “class-up” the previous design. While the idea makes sense, the mixture of gold and red messes with the desired effect and makes the red less prominent.

The name/number plate looks nearly identical to the previous ring, and the other side doesn’t differ significantly either.

The black background throughout also seems off. With the Bullets ring, it’s strictly black and gold with no team colors, and with the previous Redskins ring, it’s strictly the team colors: burgundy and gold. No matter which you prefer, at least they’re both consistent. To incorporate as much black as this ring does while also committing to the burgundy and gold makes it seem less like a ring belonging to the Redskins. It’s a minor detail, but it just seems off.

Appearance: 6/10

Creativity: 6/10

Practicality: 8.5/10

1991 Redskins

Grade: C+

For the third ring, the top design finally changed up a bit, going with the same feather pairing seen on the normal logo instead of a generic football design. The orientation of the text on the border is also changed, wrapping around the corners instead of the usual top and bottom.

The only bad part about the top is that the diamonds outside the feathers prevent the feather design from sticking out. From a distance, you can’t tell what’s on the top.

The name/number plate is slightly upgraded, as it includes all three Lombardi Trophies as well as the player’s position, which is pretty cool. The other side is similar to the last one: a Washington, D.C. landmark, the Super Bowl score and logo, then the “Hail to the Redskins.”

The third ring is the most different of the three, for better or worse, but if they removed the diamonds outside the feathers (or at least used a different color), it would look much better. (Like ‘B+’ better).

Appearance: 7/10

Creativity: 7/10

Practicality: 9/10

2018 Capitals

Grade: A

Evidently, a lot of things have changed since 1991. The rings are much bigger, but they also look much nicer. The white, silver and gold make the red really pop, and it doesn’t really go overboard in any way. It’s the team logo on the top, with the player’s name on the side in gold and the number in diamonds.

A big thing now is using the inside of the ring as well, and the series scores are located there along with another Capitals logo. There’s not much else to say about it, it’s just a really good-looking ring that doesn’t go overboard compared to some of the other championship rings as of recent.

Appearance: 10/10

Creativity: 9/10

Practicality: 8/10

2019 Nationals

Grade: A-

The Nats got their money’s worth with this ring; they used pretty much every inch. The top itself is fairly simple: a curly ‘W’ in rubies surrounded by a sapphire circle, creating a full red, white and blue effect.

The sides are pretty involved, featuring the full array of Washington landmarks between the name/number plate, as well as an American flag. The other side features the World Series trophy and a ballpark. It’s a bit more than necessary, but it still looks nice.

The details in this are insane. From the “Fight Finished,” which plays off the postseason rally call, “Finish the Fight,” to the regular season reminder to “Go 1-0 everyday,” this takes what the Bullets did in 1978 and drives it up by 10.

The best detail of all is the Baby Shark inside the ring, which Gerardo Parra brought to the team as his walk-up song, and as the team made the run to the playoffs, became a pseudo-anthem of sorts for this team. With all the phrases and references, this is the most team-specific ring I’ve ever seen.

If it toned things down just slightly, it would be perfect, but I’m not complaining. We almost didn’t have this ring, so I’ll take it as is.

Appearance: 9/10

Creativity: 10/10

Practicality: 7/10

Hopefully there will be another ring to join this bunch in the near future. If the Caps can get hot once the NHL playoffs begin, maybe we will.

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