By MIKE HOUSEHOLDER
Ohio (AP) — Every time Peyton Manning throws a pass or Cam Newton takes
off to run in Sunday’s Super Bowl, they’ll be gripping a football made
in a quaint Ohio village 2,000 miles away.
Ada, Ohio, is home to
the Wilson Sporting Goods factory that makes footballs used by the NFL,
many of the nation’s top college teams, high schools, and more.
Wilson football brand is so dominant that plant manager Dan Riegle says
every offensive point scored in an NFL game since 1941 was with one of
the company’s footballs.
“We’re kind of proud of that fact,” Riegle said.
factory’s 100-plus employees make between 3,000 and 4,000 footballs a
day and around 700,000 per year, according to Riegle, who said Wilson
sent Manning’s Denver Broncos and Newton’s Carolina Panthers 108
footballs each after the teams qualified for this year’s NFL title game
near San Francisco. The footballs feature the Super Bowl 50 logo, the
team names, the date of the game, and its location.
“We treat it
just like we do every other football we make, yet we know this ball is a
little bit different — especially since it’s Super Bowl 50. I mean,
that’s pretty big,” Riegle said.
The game’s pretty big for Sue Nichols, too.
27-year employee of the Wilson plant, where she laces the footballs,
will watch the big game thinking, “maybe that’s the ball that I laced.
could have been one that I touched and put the laces in it,” she said.
“And now they’re out there on the field and using something that I did.”
Plus, Nichols has another reason to tune in.
“I’m from North Carolina originally, so I’m a big Panthers fan,” she said.
“I think Cam’ll do it.”
If he does, it will be with a Wilson football, of course, Riegle said.
“You need to keep your eye on the ball, because without us the game would be pointless,” he said with a smile.