Footballs have been in the news a lot lately. Tom Brady missed the first four games of the season due to the deflation scandal, and in Houston, the ball for Sunday’s game with the Super Bowl LI logo is plastered everywhere.
With the ball getting so much attention, how much do you actually know about it gets made?
Deep in the heart of Texas, there’s a slice of the Midwest. As part of the party surrounding the Super Bowl, the Wilson Football company has been demonstrating how footballs get made.
Ada, Ohio is home to the Wilson Football Factory, and for the week, so too is Houston. Even the water tower in Ada says Wilson NFL on it. It’s a pretty big deal.
Each football is handmade, with barely any automation. Wilson learned the hard way that a human touch is what’s needed for making a perfect football.
Dan Riegele, Wilson Football factory Plant Manager, says, “It’s just a craft, and that’s really what we have, are craft jobs. Every cowhide’s different. So people’s hands can tell when to quit pulling, when to start pulling, how to work with this piece of leather, how to work with that cause it’s all different.”
Wilson’s been using the same leather manufacturer since 1938, and it wasn’t long after that that the NFL started using Wilson footballs
Since 1941, every point scored in the NFL has been with a Wilson football.
Every day 150 employees make 3,000-4,000 footballs. And every game, their hard work is on display for the world to see.
Riegele says, “I guarantee Sunday when they kick that Super Bowl off, they’re all watching. They’re all saying I wonder if I laced that football? I wonder if I sewed that one together? I wonder if I put that bladder in there? That is our biggest moment. And to know that that ball’s the focal point, that’s pretty cool.”