Game Balls

NFLNational Football League
1922–Present

The National Football League was formed shortly after the first U.S. professional league, the American Professional Football Association, formed in 1920. Over the years, the NFL has survived challenges from other competing leagues, starting in 1946 with the All-America Football Conference led by Paul Brown and his Cleveland Browns team. The two leagues merged in 1950. The American Football League arrived in 1960, meeting head-to-head with the NFL four times for the world championship in what came to be known as the Super Bow before the leagues merged in 1970. Other leagues, such as the WFL and the USFL, competed with the NFL for players with varying degrees of success, but no other football league has emerged to challenge the NFL’s dominance.

In the modern era, the NFL has used Wilson footballs as its official game ball. Prior to the merge with the AFL, “The Duke” model was the NFL game ball. Starting with the 2006 season, the ball has been renamed “The Duke” honoring the late New York Giants owner Wellington Mara's nickname. During night games in the 1940s and 50s the league used a white ball with black stripes. Also shown below is a prototype Spalding ball.

2006 NFL ball NFL ball NFL Duke

2006 NFL ball NFL ball NFL Duke

Spalding NFL