BY PETER JACKEL Journal Times
They're going to be taking Ken Ruettgers' ring size after all.
The Green Bay Packers' longtime left tackle, who retired late last season because of recurring problems with his left knee, learned this week that he will be getting a Super Bowl ring. Ruettgers was originally not included on the list of names to be given rings, as submitted by Packers general manager Ron Wolf.
"It was an incredible feeling," he said. "The decision was very affirming at the end of a long career at Green Bay."
Ruettgers learned he would get a ring when a jeweler from Josten's called him at his Green Bay home earlier this week.
"I just couldn't believe it," Ruettgers said. "Guys are always playing jokes on each other and that was going through my mind for a while."
Since it was reported that Ruettgers wasn't on the list for a ring, he has received numerous letters of support from fans. But it wasn't until Packers president Bob Harlan intervened that Ruettgers was rewarded for his long career with the Packers.
"I've known Bob for the 12 years I've been in Green Bay and he's just an incredible man," Ruettgers said. "He just has an open-door policy and it's the same thing with (head coach) Mike Holmgren and (offensive line coach) Tom Lovat. These last five years have been the most enjoyable of my career because of those guys."
In an interview shortly after the Super Bowl, Wolf said Ruettgers probably wouldn't be included on the list because he had retired prior to the end of the season. But there has been speculation that Ruettgers' penchant for holding out during his career with the Packers may have influenced Wolf's decision.
Ruettgers, 34, who was the Packers' first-round draft choice in 1985, was a fixture at left tackle for 10 years after becoming a starter his second year. But the wear and tear on his left knee caught up with him during training camp last summer and he didn't make his first appearance of the season until the Packers' eighth game.
Ruettgers appeared in four straight games, but constant pain in his knee forced him to announce his retirement Nov. 20. Ironically, the Packers started an eight-game winning streak immediately following Ruettgers' retirement that was capped by their Super Bowl victory over the New England Patriots Jan. 26.
Did Ruettgers feel he played a role in the Packers' first championship season in 29 years?
"Yeah, I felt a part of this team," he said. "A big part? Not as much as I would have wanted to be.