Plenty of players give up their rings—dusty after years in storage or in safe deposit boxes, because they're moving on and need cash. "Their priorities seem to change. Keep in mind that an average player plays a little over three years, and then they retire," Robins says.

Chad Hennings says he still has his rings, but he doesn't miss the game. "I got that completely out of my system," he says, especially after years taking a beating on the defensive line. "What I do miss are the relationships in the locker room and the weight room," he says. Now he's a motivational speaker and a faith-based self-help author.

Hurvin McCormack tore his PCL late in Super Bowl XXX going for a sack, and caught the end of the game from the training room TV. Flying home, though, he recalls sitting next to Leon Lett, also a defensive tackle, and trying to wrap his mind around what they'd accomplished. "I was like, 'Big Cat, this is surreal, man,'" McCormack says. "This was his third at this point, and he's like, "It's gonna take a while to really set in, what you've just accomplished.'"

The next morning, McCormack woke up with his right knee locked. "You've got something great that just happened, and you try to do your day-to-day, and you just can't," he says. Today he's in management at a pharmaceutical packaging firm in Florida. "You're asking me, have I ever experienced that kind of joy, and I haven't. Working in corporate America, yes it's a great opportunity, but waking up every day and ultimately doing what you love doing, that's huge to me."

Says Leon Lett, "After I retired, I wanted to get as far away from football as possible. I couldn't even sit around and watch a football game." Today, he's an assistant coach at the University of Louisiana at Monroe. "After a while, I started to really miss the game. It's just in me, football is in me."

The night after the Cowboys won their last Super Bowl, Jerry Jones threw a party for the team and their families in Tempe. In the early morning hours, Jett and Boniol ducked out and headed to the hotel's open-air hot tub, surrounded by the desert. It's the moment Jett goes back to now, when he thinks about that win. They puffed tobacco from pipes brought for the celebration, but there wasn't much left to say. "It was just like, wow!" he now explains, "and that's what you say: 'Wow!'"

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