It's not pigskin! How the NFL gets its footballs

When the Patriots and Falcons meet in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 in Houston, they will use approximately 120 footballs, including those selected for the kickers. All of them will have been produced by Wilson Sporting Goods at its plant in Ada, Ohio, using leather from the Horween Leather Co. in Chicago, just like every other Super Bowl dating back to the first on Jan. 15, 1967. Here is a look the balls at the center of the action:

- The hides used by the Horween family are heavy native steer, not cowhides or - shudder to think of it - pigskins. Many hides come from ranches in Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.

- The Horween family also produces leather for other football manufacturers, such as Nike, Under Armour and adidas, but only the leather sent to Wilson will be turned into NFL game balls.

- There are four panels on a game ball, and each of the 250 stitches holding them together is done by hand. And it's not "laces" - one lace is threaded by hand through 16 holes.

- Along with the embossing of the Super Bowl logo and team logos, there is also a watermark "W'' on each football to prove its authenticity. The words "Commissioner," ''Wilson" and "Made in the USA" also have been printed on every Super Bowl ball ever used.

- Each team receives 108 footballs within 48 hours of the conference championship games, half to use in practice and half in the game. That gives equipment managers and players time to break them in.

- Each ball is 71 centimeters long, 55 centimeters wide and weighs about 425 grams. And as every fan has come to learn over the past couple years, they are inflated to between 12.5 and 13.5 psi.

- Official balls, called "The Duke" in honor of former New York Giants owner Wellington Mara, have been carried, thrown or returned for 32,341 yards in Super Bowl history. That's the equivalent of about 18 miles. The balls have also been used to score 2,298 points.



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