Sports, Shmorts! For Design Fans, the Super Bowl Is All About the Trophy

tom brady at super bowl lv
Why Everyone Wants to Win the Super Bowl TrophyPatrick Smith - Getty Images

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When the top-ranked Kansas City Chiefs face off against the equally high-flying Philadelphia Eagles on February 12 for Super Bowl LVII, tens of millions of people will be watching to see the action on the field, while millions more will tune in just to see the halftime show or the clever new commercials. But for design aficionados the excitement will really start after the game, when the winner will have been decided and it comes time to present the crown jewel of sports trophies: the Vince Lombardi Trophy, custom designed each year for the National Football League by Tiffany & Co.

coach vince lombardi shaking hands with hank stram
Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi (right) and Kansas City Chiefs coach Hank Stram met before Super Bowl I in January 1967 to view the first Super Bowl trophy, designed by Tiffany & Co.Bettmann - Getty Images

Simply put, the Lombardi is a paragon of form-meets-function design; it’s the sine qua non of trophies. Standing 22 inches tall and weighing in at seven pounds—and crowned by a replica of a regulation-size football, complete with “laces”—the sterling-silver trophy is named after the legendary Vince Lombardi, who coached the Green Bay Packers to victory in the first two Super Bowls. It was presented for the first time in 1967 to Lombardi himself, though of course it was not yet named for him—that honor followed after his death in 1970.

tiffany super bowl trophy being forged in fire
A silversmith at Tiffany & Co.’s Cumberland, Rhode Island, workshop forges the Vince Lombardi Trophy at temperatures surpassing 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit.Courtesy of Tiffany & Co.

As the (possibly apocryphal?) story goes, Tiffany vice president Oscar Riedener drew up the trophy’s unadorned silhouette on a napkin during a meeting with Pete Rozelle, who was the NFL commissioner at the time. A new trophy has been crafted every year since Super Bowl I, made entirely of gleaming silver over the course of a painstaking four-month process at Tiffany’s workshop in Cumberland, Rhode Island. It’s forged in fire that reaches temperatures of more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit, then hand-soldered and polished to its incomparable sheen.

football on top of tiffany super bowl trophy in progress
An in-progress version of the regulation-size sterling-silver football that crowns the trophy, with only two of its “laces” in place.Courtesy of Tiffany & Co.

That silvery shine is offset by its unsparingly clean lines, however, resulting in the rare piece of hardware that appeals to adherents of minimalism and lovers of bling alike. Yes, hockey fans, I know—the Stanley Cup may be more awe-inspiring, but let’s face it, it’s rather unwieldy. (Also: It’s technically not a trophy.) You don’t need two hands to lift the Lombardi over your head like you do the Stanley Cup; the Lombardi is the perfect shape for hoisting high in the air as you scream that you’re going to Disney World. And as we learned a couple of years ago during the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ waterborne parade after their Super Bowl LV triumph, it’s also quite aerodynamic and can survive an ill-advised throw between two boats without plunging into the Hillsborough River (we’re looking at you Tom Brady, Mr. Retiring-Again-and-This-Time-I-Mean-It).

vince lombardi super bowl trophy by tiffany
The finished trophy, on a blanket of Tiffany blue.Courtesy of Tiffany & Co.

So this year, whether the trophy winds up in America’s heartland or gets carted back to the City of Brotherly Love, you can be sure that this piece of Tiffany silver will be treated just like the brand’s finest heirloom jewelry—that is to say, treasured for decades to come.

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