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There Are Many Who Believe Georgia Is the Original Trophy Wife

SPIN OF THE DAY

January 29, 2000|T.J. SIMERS

ATLANTA — Give it back, Georgia.

Return the first Vince Lombardi Trophy in Super Bowl history to its rightful owner--the city of Baltimore.

The statute of limitations probably rules out a police raid, but by all accounts, Georgia Frontiere is in possession of 29-year-old stolen property. Witnesses have seen the trophy from Baltimore's Super Bowl V victory in 1971 in her Bel-Air home. A duplicate had to be made and sent to Baltimore, where it's displayed in a trophy case as if it's the real thing.

"If I had it," said Steve Rosenbloom, son of former Ram owner Carroll Rosenbloom, "I'd give it to the city of Baltimore."

How's this for Super Bowl trivia? When Commissioner Paul Tagliabue hands her the trophy for a Ram victory Sunday night in Super Bowl XXXIV, he will actually be giving her the 35th such trophy made by Tiffany & Co.

"The principals involved are no longer with us, so it's a moot point," a Ram spokesman said in response to a request to ask Frontiere about the hot property she has stashed in her home.

For a woman who likes to sing, she sure has clammed up.

But think about this: Of all the football people in this world, Georgia Frontiere is probably the only one who has a Lombardi Trophy in her sun room. Wonder what Vince would think about that.

Here's the story:

Carroll Rosenbloom, while married to Georgia, owned the Baltimore Colts, who defeated Dallas in Super Bowl V.

A year later, Rosenbloom swapped franchises with Robert Irsay, moving to Los Angeles to take up ownership of the Rams.

In the days before Super Bowl VII, which was going to be played in Los Angeles, Rosenbloom suggested to Baltimore team officials that they bring the Super Bowl V trophy to display with the other Super Bowl trophies won by Green Bay, Kansas City and the New York Jets at a grand party on the Queen Mary.

"I said, 'Don't do it,' " said Ernie Accorsi, now general manager of the New York Giants, but publicity director for the Colts at that time. "I called Green Bay, New York and Kansas City and they didn't know anything about it. But our general manager, Joe Thomas, couldn't have cared less because he didn't have anything to do with that trophy, and said to send it.

"I can still see Eddie Rosenbloom, who was Carroll's nephew and our business manager, sitting there on the plane with the trophy next to him, like those commercials you see for the Stanley Cup."

That's the last time Baltimore saw its trophy.

"You're talking about the Holy Grail," Steve Rosenbloom said with a laugh. "My father had no idea what the folks in Baltimore were talking about when they asked for the trophy."

The trophy never made an appearance on the Queen Mary, prompting Irsay to call Ram general manager Don Klosterman.

"He kept saying, 'Where's the Super Bowl trophy?' " Klosterman said. "I said, 'The last time I saw it, one of our office workers was polishing it.'

"I knew where it was, of course. Carroll had it, because he said he deserved it, and it wasn't Irsay's."

Irsay died a few years ago, but his son, Jim, who now owns the Indianapolis Colts, said, "I've never been to [Georgia's] house, so I haven't seen the trophy."

The Baltimore Colts raised a ruckus after it initially came up missing, but NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle wasn't about to tangle with Rosenbloom, one of the NFL's premier power brokers.

"I saw it one more time after it left Baltimore," Accorsi said. "I was with Steve and he had to stop at his father's house for something, and invited me in.

"And there in the glistening morning sunlight I saw the Lombardi Trophy. C.R. came in the room, and I was always in awe of him, so I said, 'Mr. Rosenbloom, obviously you got a duplicate made.' And he said, 'Kid, you always were a bright young man.'

"After that, we petitioned Commissioner Rozelle to get a duplicate made for the city of Baltimore. The funny thing is, that was the first-ever Lombardi Trophy. Vince had died a few months before the Colts' win, and the trophy was named in his honor for that game. Vince's wife presented the first trophy to Carroll and I remember her saying, 'Vince would have been so happy for someone like you to have this.' Apparently, he took it literally and kept it."

Steve Rosenbloom said the trophy was significant to his father because the Colts had suffered an embarrassing loss to the Jets in Super Bowl III.

"It just mysteriously appeared at my father's house," said Rosenbloom, who didn't ask for it after his father's death in 1979. "I didn't get any heirlooms. I didn't get anything but lots of good memories."

As a sidelight to the trophy caper, when the Colts had the phony made, Accorsi had the name of George Young, who had joined the team late as an offensive line coach, added to the trophy that's on display in Baltimore. The original in Georgia's house, which has the names of the owner, general manager, players and coaches, does not include Young.

"I told George if it hadn't been stolen, his name would never be on it," Accorsi said.

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