Jimmy Johnson, Daryl Johnston place Vince Lombardi Trophy on display

By Daniel May and Brendan Heffernan
Pro Football Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson and longtime Dallas Cowboys fullback Daryl Johnston unveiled next season’s Vince Lombardi Trophy inside the Lamar Hunt Super Bowl Gallery at the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Friday.  

Johnson and Johnston, who brought home two Super Bowl trophies together in Dallas, were happy to share another moment with football’s greatest prize. 

“This would’ve been three in a row if you would’ve stayed in Dallas,” Johnston said.

“Your blocking put Emmitt Smith in the Hall of Fame and helped put me in the Hall of Fame,” Johnson replied. “Words can’t express how much this means.”
Johnston, the USFL’s vice president of football operations, was in town preparing for the league’s playoffs, kicking off Saturday in Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. Johnston and Johnson spoke at a luncheon Friday held for the four playoff-qualifying teams in the Hall’s Nash Family Event & Conference Center. 

A crowd of museum-goers gathered outside the Super Bowl gallery to watch the former coach and player don white gloves and place the trophy in its display case. The ceremony held special significance for Crystal Roth of Ste. Genevieve, Mo. 

Roth was visiting the Hall of Fame for the first time with her husband, Jeremey, and their two sons. She dressed for her visit in an Emmitt Smith jersey that her late father had purchased for her nearly 30 years ago, having no knowledge of the ceremony that was planned for that afternoon. Roth said she felt overcome by emotion when she and her family caught a glimpse of two heroes from her childhood’s favorite team.

Roth said she hoped the ceremony would bring some championship luck to Dallas this season.

“Maybe since Jimmy had his hands on it we have a chance. Lord knows we deserve it,” Roth said.

Also on their first visit to the Hall of Fame, John and Jail Birt of Chicago said they were excited and surprised when they rounded a corner and saw Johnson hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. 

"This is our first time here, and it’s very impressive. We simply came here to see the memories of old players we used to watch on TV,” John Birt said.

What started out as a simple road trip to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland turned into a memory of a lifetime, the couple said.

Jeff and Liane Hamilton of Charlotte, N.C., watched the ceremony while visiting the Hall of Fame for the first time with their sons, Mason and Owen.

“It was mind-blowing,” Mason Hamilton said. “Just seeing the trophy was surreal.”

Liane Hamilton said the experience will be at the front of their minds while they watch this year's Super Bowl.

“It will totally change our perspective knowing that we saw that trophy,” she said. 

The Lombardi Trophy will remain in the gallery until a few weeks before Super Bowl LVII. Then, Hall of Fame staff will ship it back to Tiffany’s for a final polish before it is taken to Glendale, Ariz., where it will be awarded to the game’s winner.

Daniel May is a student at Buffalo State University. Brendan Heffernan is a student at Loyola University New Orleans. Both are interns this summer at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.