Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout
Sports and Faith: Stories of the Devoted and the Devout is a personal chronicle of Chicago Bears
Senior Director Patrick McCaskey that looks back at decades of spiritual enrichment and life lessons
from athletes, coaches, religious and everyday people.
Bear With Me: A Family History of George Halas and the Chicago Bears
Bear with Me is Chicago Bears Senior Director Patrick McCaskey's look back at his grandfather,
the establishment of the mighty Monsters of the Midway, and the McCaskey's family role as stewards of
the great man's legacy.
I recently saw an official NFL football that had been used in a game and was given to the parents of a serviceman who had died in the line of duty. It was something they treasured dearly. Our eyes teared up as the Mom discussed the situation. Then she posed a question about the ball that we could not answer so I wrote the manufacturer, Wilson, to provide one. I also did a little extra research about the ball and this is what I found out.
Wilson Football Facts
The official football of the NFL since 1941 is the Wilson football. Each NFL team receives 108 game footballs a week. Half are used for practice and half are used during the weekly gridiron contest itself. Special balls used by kickers are marked with a "K." These balls are delivered separately to the officials' hotel room about two and a half hours prior to kickoff.
Balls are handcrafted and marked with the date of their making using a number scheme that follows the letters "WK." The numbers indicate the month and year the ball was made. Wilson footballs are made at a special football factory in Ada, Ohio that employs about 120 people who make 700,000 footballs a year for the NFL, the NCAA, many high school associations, American Youth Football and others. These workers develop exceptional strength in their hands, arms, fingers and wrists depending upon their part of the operation. From what I have read, they love and revere their work although it is difficult and demanding.
The NFL ball was lovingly named "The Duke" in 1941 at the recommendation of George Halas to honor Wellington "Duke" Mara, the son of New York Giants founder Tim Mara. Wellington Mara was known as a man who was committed to the good of the league, the game, and the spirit of its people--both athletes and fans. The Duke model was replaced by another Wilson ball after the 1969 season, but in 2006, Wilson again used the name "Duke" for the current NFL ball to once again honor Wellington Mara who passed away in 2005.
Every October, NFL game balls are produced with pink ribbon decals to support breast cancer awareness. These footballs are used in games and subsequently auctioned off as part of the NFL's support of the fight against breast cancer.
Wilson is owned by Amer Sports of Helsinki, Finland. I'd like to express my appreciation for Amer Sports keeping their football manufacturing operation here in the states. We can use those jobs!
Copyright 2012 Sporting Chance Press, Inc.>
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