Crystal Steelers trophy loaned to museum

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It’s a crystal football, not a skull. But just like Indiana Jones, Mayor Bill Peduto thinks the trophy commemorating the Steelers 2006 Super Bowl victory belongs in a museum.

Rather than decorating a shelf in his office, the trophy, which Mr. Peduto said is worth about $40,000, has been loaned to the Western Pennsylvania Sports Museum at the Sen. John Heinz History Center on a long-term basis.

“It will still be the property of the people of Pittsburgh, but it will now have the opportunity to be actually seen by the people of Pittsburgh and Western Pennsylvania as well,” the mayor said. “The goal of that is simply to assure that in the future, that one piece of Pittsburgh history will remain with the people of Pittsburgh and in a way where they can also enjoy it.”

The trophy, which was presented to the city and the late Mayor Bob O’Connor in 2006 by Kaufmann’s department store, was among a list of items Mr. Peduto reported to the FBI as missing from the mayor’s office when his administration took over city hall in January.

Charles Porter Jr., a lawyer for former Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, turned the football over to the FBI, which gave it back to the city in March, said Tim McNulty, Mr. Peduto's spokesman.

“It was returned by the previous administration and for the past couple months has sat in the closet of our chief of staff, Kevin Acklin,” Mr. Peduto said.

Mr. Porter's office said he is on vacation this week, and an attempt to reach him was not successful Wednesday afternoon.

Andy Masich, the history center’s president and CEO, said the trophy will take its place in the sports museum alongside “other artifacts” from the Steelers’ six Super Bowl championships.

“As this new artifact is processed by history center curators and conservators, visitors will be able to see it in the Grace Compton Conservation Lab on the museum’s fourth floor beginning this weekend,” he said.

The football, along with an antique clock, a vase from Wuhan, China, and Mr. Ravenstahl’s computer, were reported missing to the FBI because of an ongoing federal investigation into city government spawned by the probe that sent police Chief Nate Harper to prison on charges related to stealing nearly $32,000 in city money. Mr. Ravenstahl has not been charged, though his secretary, chief of staff and men who served as his police bodyguards were called before a federal grand jury.

The clock mysteriously reappeared in its former place on a mantel in a conference room, and Mr. Ravenstahl returned his computer. The Chinese vase remains unaccounted for, as well as damage to a painting of William Pitt the Younger that now hangs in the same conference room, and a chandelier that hung in the mayor’s office but is now being repaired, Mr. Peduto said.

In a previous Post-Gazette interview, Mr. Porter said that Mr. Ravenstahl never brought city items home, though he did take some to an off-site storage place. The FBI was given access to that storage area, he said.

Since January, the city has created a mandatory inventory system for all city property and issued bar codes to prevent items from walking away, Mr. Peduto said, showing a reporter his phone, which bore a code sticker.

“In the case of many of the electronics, we're not even sure what was missing,” he said.

Robert Zullo: or 412-263-3909. Twitter: @rczullo

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