NFL "The Duke"
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Game Ball
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The Final Stitch

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Wilson and the nfl,
since 1941

Every throw, every kick, every touchdown and every point in every NFL game has been with a Wilson football. Some of the greatest moments in football history have been told through the amazing feats of the players - and Wilson has been in their hands.

Wilson and the NFL were brought together in 1941 by George Halas and Tim Mara . The quality craftsmanship, including top leather, hand-sewn, lockstich seams and performance of the ball were recognized by the NFL and they adopted the Wilson football as the official ball of the NFL.

Since then, Wilson has worked to continue producing the best footballs through innovations and quality craftsmanship.

The Official football
of the NFL - "The Duke"

In honor of the late New York Giants owner, Wellington Mara, one of the most beloved and respected figures in professional sports history, the Official Football of the NFL is called "The Duke".

Wellington Mara, who spent 81 years with the New York Giants and made numerous contributions to the NFL, was named Wellington by his father, Tim Mara, after the Duke of Wellington. He was given the nickname "The Duke" as a youngster by Giants players.

The NFL first used a ball in honor of Wellington Mara called "The Duke" in 1941 at the suggestion of George Halas, as Tim Mara (Wellington's father) had helped him arrange for Wilson Sporting Goods Co. to become the league's official supplier of game balls.

"The Duke" ball was used through 1969 but was discontinued prior to the 1970 season, the first to be played post NFL-AFL merger. The NFL and AFL continued using a Wilson football, but with a new design and no official name. In 2006, the NFL returned the name of "The Duke" to the ball after Mara's passing in October, 2005.

Wilson has been the Official Ball for nearly 70 years and this is believed to be one of the longest partnerships in sports history.

George Halas

Halas was associated with the Chicago Bears and the National Football League from their inception in 1920 until his death in 1983. He represented the Bears, originally known as the Decatur Staleys, at the NFL's organizational meeting held in Canton, Ohio.

During his incredible career he filled the shoes of owner, manager, player, and promoter, and was an influential leader among the NFL's ownership. It was, however, as a coach that he excelled and was best known. Although Halas coached his Bears for 40 seasons, he stepped away from the coaching ranks three times - 1930-1932, 1942-1945 (to serve in the military), and 1956-1957. Mr. Halas was instrumental in pairing the NFL and Wilson in 1941 as official partners, by recommending the NFL select Wilson as the Official Football for all NFL games at the 1941 owners meeting.

Did you know?

Total number of game balls used during the superbowl: 120, Including 12 kicker balls

For every NFL game each team is shipped 108 game balls - 54 for practice and 54 for the game.

Wilson employees work through the night to ship game balls to the teams within 24 hours of NFC and AFC championship games.

The Duke


"The Duke" is the official game ball of the NFL. Customize yours in support of your favorite team.

Superbowl football


For the past 48 seasons Wilson and the NFL have partnered to create the greatest spectacle in all of sports - the Official ball of the Super Bowl.



In 1955 Wilson opened the Wilson Football factory in Ada, Ohio to ensure that Wilson footballs would not only be American made, but the highest quality footballs ever produced. To this day, the world leader in football continues to produce all of its leather game footballs right here in America in the world's only dedicated football factory.

In fact, since 1941 every NFL game ball that's appeared in Super Bowl competition has been made at the Wilson Football Factory. That means every Super Bowl touchdown pass caught or extra point kicked has been scored with an American-made football. The quality of the Official NFL Football is a direct result of the professionalism and skilled craftsmanship of the workers in Ada. Whether you cut panels, sew the footballs or turn them right side out, everyone at the Wilson Football Factory shares the goal of producing the highest quality football in the game. That dedication to quality has made Wilson a big part of American football lore.


Producing 4,000 footballs a day and over 700,000 a year, the plant employs 120 people that truly display a pride in craftsmanship. Nothing is automated on the factory floor. Production is done by hand as they cut the highest quality cowhide panels, sew the panels inside out, steam them soft enough to turn, and lace precise enough to throw tight spirals.

The National Football League is the only major sports league whose balls are manufactured in the United States. The footballs get their start on the backs of cows taken from feedlots in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. Young, lean steers are preferred over fat dairy cows because the leather is more resistant to stretching. When the cowhides arrive in Ada, they are received from our tannery that treats them with the Wilson exclusive recipe and are stamped with the Wilson 'W' to authenticate our NFL leather. In addition to the Super Bowl, Pro Bowl and all NFL footballs, our factory also manufactures the Official Footballs for the NCAA, 28 high school associations, American Youth Football and countless other leagues.

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