A nice ring to it

MIKE KOREEN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

If Jude St. John did not play football, his Grey Cup ring might be permanently attached to his finger. "I don't take it off much," the Argos offensive lineman said with a smile. "I'm sure I'll be wearing it for a while."

You can't blame the big man for showing off something he had been trying to earn for 10 years. The Argos' 27-19 win over the B.C. Lions last November gave St. John his elusive piece of jewellery. The Argos received the uniquely designed rings during a training camp party at co-owner David Cynamon's house. "That ring represents a lot of things and it represents the great bunch of guys that you played with. For me, it also represents a 10-year career it took me to get there. It was great to be able to share that with my teammates," St. John said.

After the Argos' triumph on the field, the organization asked the players for their input on the ring design. All the team captains and quarterback Damon Allen formed a committee. For six weeks, team executives and players exchanged ideas before agreeing on a final product. "We invited a number of suppliers into the fray and a number of shops and we said for whatever price, come up with a design," said Brian Kalish, vice-president of business development. Eventually, the Argos picked Intergold, a Calgary-based company, to make the rings. Experience was a factor. Intergold has designed Stanley Cup rings and National Basketball Association championship rings, including the Detroit Pistons' jewellery from last year.

The rings, featuring gold, sapphires and diamonds, certainly are beauties, but not just artistically. One quick glance will tell you the story of the franchise, one of the main goals of the committee. Start off with new and old team logos, including that traditional boatmen sketch. Then there is the score of the game, a picture of the Grey Cup, the words Grey Cup 2004 and 131 years (the age of the team). The ring also includes the respective player's last name and number.

Perhaps the most impressive detail is the 15 sapphires, representing the 15 Grey Cups the Argos have won. "It's bigger and it's a little bit different," said Argos defensive back Adrion Smith, who has won three Grey Cups with the team. "It's got the new shield on it and has a little storyline to it. It has 15 sapphires in there that symbolize our 15th Grey Cup as an organization. It just means a little more to me because it's got the whole story on it. If this ownership group didn't step up and do the things they did, you don't know if you'd be in position to get those championship rings. You keep things in perspective. We had people that really understood what this team has been through and wanted to be a part of keeping the history going in this city."

All the pre-ring presentation preparation seems to have paid off for the Argos. Just ask St. John. "The guys from other teams you run into, they're all complimenting it," he said. "They are phenomenal. The organizing committee, the players in particular, did a great job. It's a beautiful, beautiful ring."


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