The roots of the NFL go all the way back to Ohio in 1920. The Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals currently play each Sunday in the fall.
However, the biggest contribution from the Buckeye state to the current NFL comes from the tiny town of Ada in Hardin County.
“They call us the football capital of Ohio, I think we’re the football capital of America,” said Donna Putnam. Putnam has worked at Wilson 27 years.
Wilson sporting goods has the only plant in North American that still makes footballs by hand.
Since 1941, every single point scored in the NFL has been done with a Wilson football.
“It’s huge that we’re a part of the NFL, and we can make it in this little town with cornfields around it here in the Midwest in Ada, Ohio. We keep doing that for the NFL because we make the best product, and we make a quality product…and consistent,” said Dan Riegle, plant manager.
While there are 512 regular season NFL games each year, it's the Super Bowl that really pumps everyone up.
“This time of the year is an awesome…big time for us,” said Jane Helser. Helser has been at the plant 46 years.
As soon as the outcome of the conference championship games is known, production begins.
In all, 228 balls are produced to be used by the teams and as official game balls. As many as 20,000 more will be fabricated for retail use.
Footballs are made all year long, and produced for other professional leagues world-wide, as well as for the NCAA and numerous state high school associations.
But the biggest rewards come on Super Bowl Sunday.
“Once you start watching the product out there on the field, and think ‘Wow did I have a hand in making that’," said Riegle.
“And when they kick that ball off, it’s like I have goosebumps,” said Putnam.
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