NEW YORK (CBS 2) — A former New York Jet, who lost his Super Bowl ring more than 40 years ago in the ocean in Hawaii, got some incredible news — his ring has been found.

Former New York Jets champion and center John Schmitt faithfully wears his gold Super Bowl III ring encrusted with diamonds and green emeralds. However, it isn’t the original, which he lost surfing in Hawaii in 1971 just two years after he got it.

“I nearly drowned trying to find the doggone thing,” Schmitt told CBS 2’s Emily Smith.

To Schmitt that ring represented what he calls the most important Super Bowl in history. As the underdog, the Jets lead by “Broadway” Joe Namath took on the mighty Baltimore Colts and against the odds, won.

“Joe Namath — in his wisdom — on the Thursday before the game, guarantees the win, you know? So we had to win, couldn’t let him down,” Schmitt said.

Schmitt’s prized possession was found by former Waikiki Beach lifeguard John Ernstberg.

Cindy Saffery and her husband recently inherited the lost Super Bowl ring after Ernstberg’s death.

“One day he came home. He handed my aunt, Mary Ernstberg, a ring. And both of them, not thinking about looking at it, just put it in a little box and put it way. And all he stated to her was, he found this in the water of Waikiki,” Saffery said.

Out of curiosity the couple took the ring to an accredited gemologist in Hawaii to find it was worth $12,700. But they don’t want money — just for the ring to go to its rightful owner.

Schmitt said once he gets the original ring back, he’s going to wear it only on special occasions. He said he’ll wear the replacement ring every day. He also said he’ll never again go surfing with the ring on.

The ring means a lot to Schmitt, but the act of kindness and how it has resurfaced touched him most. While he doesn’t have the ring back just yet, he is so excited that he has offered to fly the Safferys to New York to meet with them.

Share your thoughts in the comments section…

Watch & Listen LIVE