History of the Official American Football

Emma | 05 - 30 - 2021
Football History

The NFL is one of the most famous sports in America, and nearly 40% of Americans say it is their favorite sport to watch. The NFL not only has fans from stateside but also other countries. The NFL holds the pride of having the highest average attendance (67,591) of any other sports league in the world. “The Duke” Wilson is the only official NFL football, and no other brand has partnered with the American football league.  

Official American Football History

Wilson Sporting Goods and the National Football League relationship is one of the longest and successful partnerships in sports history. Wilson “The Duke” was adopted as the official football in 1941 because NFL’s George Halals and Tim Mara were impressed with the quality, craftsmanship, and overall performance of the football. The American football league’s official ball got its name “The Duke” after Willington Mara, football legend and NY Giants owner. Mara was a ball boy during his early years, and the Giant players started calling him “The Duke,” named after the Duke of Wellington by his father, Giants founder Tim Mara. 

How Footballs Are Made

During the early days of the game, football was made up of pigskin, especially with the bladder of the pig. Wilson is the world’s only football dedicated factory, and it also produces high-quality footballs. It is said that about 130 employees in Wilson produce 4000 balls every day i.e., 700,000 balls each year. The specialty of the ball is that it is completely handmade, from cutting to tying each “The Duke” football is done by hand, and nothing is automated. 

What Are Footballs Made Of?
  • A. Cowhide
  • B. Pigskin
  • C. Sheepskin
  • D. None of the Above

An average of 10 football balls is made from a single cowhide (skin and hair of cow). The cows are raised in Iowa, Kansas, and Nebraska. Nearly two dozen people work for one “The Duke” football.  

How a Wilson Football Is Made Step by Step

  • Firstly four panels of genuine cowhide leather are needed 
  • Then panels are cut to size 
  • Later, logos and emblem is pressed into the surface of the leather 
  • Each panel is sewn together according to Wilson’s quality standards (,Craftspeople do this process and this skill requires months and even years to practice) 
  • After the ball is sewn together, it is turned right-side-out, and an airtight bladder is inserted. Finally, the ball is tied with lace and inflated.

Before being sold, “The Duke” undergoes several quality checks. 

How Did American Football Get Its Shape?

Early football games were played with large and round balls. As it was awkward to carry and difficult to throw and the game evolved from running to passing, the ball too evolved and got a new shape. The globe-shaped football adopted an ovaloid shape in 1897 and later in 1912 it got the elongated shape that we still use today.  

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