Ball (gridiron football)

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A leather football used in a 1932 college football game Football signed by Gerald R. Ford.jpg
A leather football used in a 1932 college football game

In Canada and the United States, a football (also called a pigskin) [1] is a ball, roughly in the form of a prolate spheroid, used in the context of playing gridiron football. Footballs are often made of cow hide leather, as such a material is required in professional and collegiate football. Footballs used in recreation, and in organized youth leagues, may be made of rubber or plastic materials (high school football rule books still allow inexpensive all-rubber footballs, though they are less common than leather).

Contents

History

Early balls

Richard Lindon with two rugby union balls in 1880 Richard Lindon (1816-1887).jpg
Richard Lindon with two rugby union balls in 1880

In the 1860s, manufactured inflatable balls were introduced through the innovations of English shoemaker Richard Lindon. These were much more regular in shape than the handmade balls of earlier times, making kicking and carrying easier. These early footballs were plum-shaped. [2]

Some teams used to have white footballs for purposes of night practice. Georgia Tech back Judy Harlan once spoke of Joe Guyon, a full blooded Indian, and his antics: "Once in a while the Indian would come out in Joe, such as the nights (John) Heisman gave us a white football and had us working out under the lights. That's when Guyon would give out the blood curdling war whoops." [3]

A white football signed by the members of the 1935 Collegiate All-Star Team, including president Gerald Ford 1935 All-Star Collegiate Football (1989.222).jpg
A white football signed by the members of the 1935 Collegiate All-Star Team, including president Gerald Ford

The football changed in 1934, with a rule change that tapered the ball at the ends more and reduced the size around the middle. This new, sleeker ball made it much easier to handle, particularly for passers, while at the same time making the drop kick unreliable and obsolete. [4] Hugh "Shorty" Ray, at the time a college football official and later the NFL's head of officiating, is generally credited with conceiving the pointed football. [5]

"The Duke"

From 1941 to 1970 and since 2006, the official game ball of the National Football League has been stamped with the nickname "The Duke" in honor of Wellington Mara, the longtime owner of the New York Giants, who was named after the Duke of Wellington by his father, Tim Mara, founder and first owner of the Giants. Wilson Sporting Goods, the manufacturer of the NFL ball since 1941, named the ball after Wellington Mara at the urging of George Halas, the owner of the Chicago Bears, to reward Tim Mara for arranging the contract that made Wilson the official supplier of footballs to the NFL. The nickname was originally used until 1970, when Wilson changed the game ball upon the merger of the NFL and AFL. Wellington Mara died in 2005, and Wilson returned "The Duke" to the game ball the following year in his honor. [6]

Properties

Early American footballs were essentially rugby balls, later redesigned to make them easier to throw. In this 1907 photo, Bradbury Robinson, who threw the first legal forward pass, demonstrates an "Overhand spiral--fingers on lacing" RobinsonThrowing2.jpg
Early American footballs were essentially rugby balls, later redesigned to make them easier to throw. In this 1907 photo, Bradbury Robinson, who threw the first legal forward pass, demonstrates an "Overhand spiral—fingers on lacing"

Coach John Heisman (the namesake for today's Heisman Trophy) was a Shakespearean actor in the offseason, and would open each season by saying to his freshmen football players:

What is this? It is a prolate spheroid, an elongated sphere in which the outer leather casing is drawn tightly over a somewhat smaller rubber tubing. Better to have died as a small boy than to fumble this football. [8]

Leather panels are typically tanned to a natural brown color, which is usually required in professional leagues and collegiate play. At least one manufacturer uses leather that has been tanned to provide a "tacky" grip in dry or wet conditions.[ citation needed ] Historically, white footballs have been used in games played at night so that the ball can be seen more easily[ citation needed ]; however, improved artificial lighting conditions have made this no longer necessary. At most levels of play (but not, notably, the NFL), white stripes are painted on each end of the ball, halfway around the circumference, to improve nighttime visibility and also to differentiate the college football from the pro football[ citation needed ]. However, the NFL once explored the usage of white-striped footballs – in Super Bowl VIII. [9]

Tuftsfootball.jpg
TryoutOJNT 2 (217) (6932187715).jpg
The old melon-shaped ball (left, an 1892 ball) measures from 28 to 22 inches (71 to 56 cm) in circumference, while the modern ball (right) measures approximately 21 inches (53 cm).

The leather is usually stamped with a pebble-grain texture to help players grip the ball. Some or all of the panels may be stamped with the manufacturer's name, league or conference logos, signatures, and other markings. Four panels or pieces of leather or plastic are required for each football. After a series of quality control inspections for weight and blemishes, workers begin the actual manufacturing process.

Two of the panels are perforated along adjoining edges, so that they can be laced together. One of these lacing panels receives an additional perforation and reinforcements in its center, to hold the inflation valve. Each panel is attached to an interior lining. The four panels are then stitched together in an "inside-out" manner. The edges with the lacing holes, however, are not stitched together. The ball is then turned right side out by pushing the panels through the lacing hole. A polyurethane or rubber lining called a bladder is then inserted through the lacing hole. Polyvinyl chloride or leather laces are inserted through the perforations, to provide a grip for holding, hiking and passing the football. Before play, according to the NFL rules, the ball must be inflated to an air pressure between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch (86 and 93 kilopascals). [10] The ball weighs 14 to 15 ounces (400 to 430 grams).

Other leagues

In the CFL the stripes traverse the entire circumference of the ball; its ball used slightly different dimensions prior to the 2018 season, when the league adopted the NFL specifications for its ball with the previous striping retained. [11] The UFL used a ball with lime-green stripes. The 2001 XFL used a novel color pattern, a black ball with red curved lines in lieu of stripes, for its footballs; this design was redone in a tan and navy color scheme for the Arena Football League in 2003. The 2020 XFL is standard brown but with X markings at each point. Three indoor American football leagues; the Can-Am League, UIFL, and AIF, used a ball with red, white and blue panels. The USFL (1983–85) used the same Wilson football the NFL used at the time, with the only differences being the word markings and signature. The World Football League's football was a distinct orange color, said to be more visible during the night as most of that league's games would be played in the evenings.

Regulations

Typical modern American football as used in the NFL, manufactured by Wilson Wilson Extreme football.jpg
Typical modern American football as used in the NFL, manufactured by Wilson

In an NFL game, the home club must have 36 balls for an outdoor game or 24 for an indoor game, and they must be available for the referee to test with a pressure gauge two and a half hours before the game. Twelve new footballs, sealed in a special box and shipped by the manufacturer, are opened in the officials’ locker room two hours and 15 minutes before the game. These balls are specially marked with the letter "K" and are used exclusively for the kicking game. The visiting team may also present 12 balls to the referee for outdoor games for inspection. [12] The NFL introduced kicking balls (K-balls) to prevent teams from doctoring balls after the NFL Competition Committee determined that teams conditioned balls so they would fly higher and travel farther. [13]

Since 1941, Horween Leather Company has been the exclusive supplier of leather for National Football League footballs. [14] [15] [16] The arrangement was established by Arnold Horween, who had played and coached in the NFL. [17] Horween Leather Company also supplies leather to Spalding, supplier of balls to the Arena Football League. [18] Despite the moniker "pigskin" sometimes used to refer to footballs, cow leather is used. [19]

Recreational variations

Minnesota Vikings kicker Fred Cox, during his NFL career, is credited with developing an all-polyurethane foam football, which he sold to Nerf. [20] Nerf later added the vortex football, also made of foam, with a smaller body and torpedo tail fins, resembling a Ketchum Grenade. Foam footballs such as Nerf's, especially the vortex football, can be thrown greater distances than a traditional air-filled leather or rubber ball, [21] but in turn, kicking range is greatly reduced, with the vortex football being practically unkickable.

See also

Related Research Articles

A football is a ball inflated with air that is used to play one of the various sports known as football. In these games, with some exceptions, goals or points are scored only when the ball enters one of two designated goal-scoring areas; football games involve the two teams each trying to move the ball in opposite directions along the field of play.

Nerf American toy brand

Nerf is a toy brand formed by Parker Brothers and currently owned by Hasbro. Most of the toys are a variety of foam-based weaponry, with other Nerf products including balls for sports such as American football, basketball, and baseball. The most notable of the toys are their dart guns that shoot ammunition made from "Nerf foam". Their primary slogan, first introduced in the 1990s, is "It's Nerf or Nothin'!". Annual revenues under the Nerf brand are approximately US$400 million .

Water polo ball Ball used for water and canoe polo

A water polo ball is a ball used in water polo and canoe polo, usually characterized by a bright yellow color and ease of grip ability, so as to allow it to be held with one hand despite its large size.

Baseball (ball) Ball used in the sport of baseball

A baseball is a ball used in the sport of the same name. The ball comprises a rubber or cork center wrapped in yarn and covered with white horsehide or cowhide. A regulation baseball is 9–9+14 inches in circumference, with a mass of 5 to 5+14 oz.. A baseball is bound together by 108 hand-woven stitches through the cowhide leather.

Wellington Mara American businessman

Wellington Timothy Mara was the co-owner of the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL) from 1959 until his death, and one of the most influential and iconic figures in the history of the NFL. He was the younger son of Tim Mara, who founded the Giants in 1925. Wellington was a ball boy that year.

Tennis ball Ball used in the sport of tennis

A tennis ball is a ball designed for the sport of tennis. Tennis balls are fluorescent yellow in organised competitions, but in recreational play can be virtually any color. Tennis balls are covered in a fibrous felt which modifies their aerodynamic properties, and each has a white curvilinear oval covering it.

Koosh ball A toy ball made of rubber filaments on a soft rubber core

The Koosh ball is a toy ball made of rubber filaments (strands) radiating from a steel-bound core, patented in 1987 by Scott H. Stillinger. The company later expanded their product line to include 50 other Koosh-related products, including keyrings, baseball sets, and yo-yos.

The Wilson Sporting Goods Company is an American sports equipment manufacturer based in Chicago, Illinois. From 1989, it has been a subsidiary of the Finnish group Amer Sports, since 2019 itself a subsidiary of the Chinese group ANTA Sports. Wilson makes equipment for many sports, among them baseball, badminton, American football, basketball, fastpitch softball, golf, racquetball, soccer, squash, tennis, pickleball and volleyball.

Rugby ball

A rugby ball is an elongated ellipsoidal ball used in rugby football. Its measurements and weight are specified by World Rugby and the Rugby League International Federation, the governing bodies for both codes, rugby union and rugby league respectively.

Rawlings (company) American sports equipment company

Rawlings Sporting Goods is an American sports equipment manufacturing company based in Town and Country, Missouri. Founded in 1887, Rawlings currently specializes in baseball clothing and equipment, producing gloves, bats, balls, protective gear, batting helmets, uniforms, bags. Footwear includes sneakers, and sandals. The company also sells other accessories such as belts, wallets, and sunglasses.

Sherrin

Sherrin is a brand of football used in Australian rules football and is the official ball of the Australian Football League, designed to its official specifications. It was the first ball designed specifically for the sport.

Spalding (company) Sporting goods company

Spalding is an American sports equipment manufacturing company founded by Albert Spalding in Chicago, in 1876. It is now headquartered in Bowling Green, Kentucky. Spalding currently focuses on basketball, mainly producing balls but also commercializing hoops, rims, nets and ball pump needles. Softballs are commercialized through its subsidiary Dudley Sports.

The 2006 NFL season was the 87th regular season of the National Football League. Regular season play was held from September 7 to December 31, 2006.

Ball (association football) Spherical object used in association football tournament

A football, soccer ball, football ball, or association footballball is the ball used in the sport of association football. The name of the ball varies according to whether the sport is called "football", "soccer", or "association football". The ball's spherical shape, as well as its size, weight, and material composition, are specified by Law 2 of the Laws of the Game maintained by the International Football Association Board. Additional, more stringent standards are specified by FIFA and subordinate governing bodies for the balls used in the competitions they sanction.

Basketball (ball) Inflated ball used for basketball games

A basketball is a spherical ball used in basketball games. Basketballs usually range in size from very small promotional items that are only a few inches in diameter to extra large balls nearly 2 feet (60 cm) in diameter used in training exercises. For example, a youth basketball could be 27 inches (69 cm) in circumference, while a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) men's ball would be a maximum of 30 inches (76 cm) and an NCAA women's ball would be a maximum of 29 inches (74 cm). The standard for a basketball in the National Basketball Association (NBA) is 29.5 inches (75 cm) in circumference and for the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA), a maximum circumference of 29 inches (74 cm). High school and junior leagues normally use NCAA, NBA or WNBA sized balls.

Volleyball (ball) Ball used in volleyball

A volleyball is a ball used to play indoor volleyball, beach volleyball, or other less common variations of the sport. Volleyballs are round and traditionally consist of eighteen nearly rectangular panels of synthetic or genuine leather, arranged in six identical sections of three panels each, wrapped around a bladder. A valve permits the internal air pressure to be adjusted. In a break from the traditional construction, in 2008, the FIVB adopted as its official indoor ball a new Mikasa with dimples and only eight panels for a softer touch and truer flight.

Ralph Horween

Ralph Horween was an American football player and coach. He played fullback and halfback and was a punter and drop-kicker for the unbeaten Harvard Crimson football teams of 1919 and 1920, which won the 1920 Rose Bowl. He was voted an All-American.

Arnold Horween

Arnold Horween was an American college and professional American football player and coach. He played and coached both for Harvard University and in the National Football League (NFL).

Horween Leather Company

Horween Leather Company is an American company specializing in the manufacturing and refining of leather and related products. It is one of the oldest continuously running tanneries in the United States of America. Since its founding in the early 20th century it has been located in Chicago.

Nerf Blaster A toy gun firing Nerf darts

A Nerf Blaster is a toy gun made by Hasbro that fires foam darts, discs, or foam balls. The term "Nerf gun" is often used to describe the toy; however, it is often used as a blanket term for any foam dart blaster, regardless of whether or not it has the Nerf brand name. Nerf blasters are manufactured in multiple forms. The first Nerf blasters emerged in the late 1980s with the release of the Nerf Blast-a-Ball and the Arrowstorm.

References

  1. "Why is a Football Called a "Pigskin"?".
  2. Trueman, Nigel. "Rugby Football History" . Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  3. Wiley Lee Umphlett (1992). Creating the Big Game: John W. Heisman and the Invention of American Football . Greenwood Publishing Group. pp.  141–142, 144, 148, 151–152.
  4. Pearson, The People History -- Steve. "History of The Game Of Football Including The NFL and College Football" . Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  5. Seymour Smith (September 14, 1966). "Pro Football To Honor Ray: Rules Advisor's Ideas Gave Game Needed Boost". The Sun (Baltimore). p. C4.
  6. Frassinelli, Mike (30 January 2014). "Why is the NFL football called The Duke?". NJ.com. Retrieved March 26, 2018.
  7. Cochems, Eddie, "The Forward Pass and On-Side Kick", Spalding's How to Play Foot Ball, American Sports Publishing, Walter Camp, Editor, Revised 1907 edition
  8. Pees, Samuel T. "John Heisman, Football Coach". Oil History. Retrieved 2014-11-12.
  9. Kerry Byrne. "'The Duke' is back!" (subtitle - "The white stripes")". Coldhardfootballfacts.com. Archived from the original on 7 March 2014. Retrieved 3 August 2006.
  10. "Rule 2: The Ball" (PDF). National Football League. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
  11. CFL TO ROLL OUT NEW BALL FOR 2018 SEASON
  12. "2020 NFL Rulebook | NFL Football Operations". operations.nfl.com. Retrieved 8 December 2020.
  13. Some kickers, punters don't favor special teams K-Ball, Associated Press, 10 January 2007, retrieved 8 December 2020
  14. "The NFL's centenarians". Profootballhof.com. 7 February 2010. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  15. Scott Oldham (October 2001). "Bombs Away". Popular Mechanics. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  16. John Maxymuk (2012). NFL Head Coaches: A Biographical Dictionary, 1920–2011. McFarland. ISBN   9780786465576 . Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  17. Barbara Rolek (27 October 2003). "Horween's leather bound by tradition". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 27 March 2013.
  18. Horween Leather Company. encyclopedia.com. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
  19. Howard Wolinsky (May 16, 2008). "Horween Leather Faces an Uncertain Future". Business Week. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
  20. "Ex-Vikings kicker Fred Cox, inventor of Nerf football, dies at 80". ESPN.com. November 21, 2019. Retrieved November 22, 2019.
  21. "Nerf Sports". Hasbro. Archived from the original on 2015-12-26. Retrieved 2013-01-24.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)