Ada, Ohio, doesn't stick out on a map. The town with a population of about 6,000 is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Cleveland and is tucked away in the quiet countryside of the Midwest. But there's some significant work happening in Ada ? it's the location of the Wilson factory where NFL footballs are made. Since 1955, every NFL ball has been made in this facility. Today, it employs 120 workers and produces more than 700,000 footballs per year. Many of the employees at the factory have been at their job for decades. There's a pride that comes from seeing their handiwork in action on the gridiron every Sunday. "To know that those footballs came from a little town in the cornfields of Ohio, that's very special to all of us who work here," says plant manager Daniel Riegle. Riegle and his staff gave SI KIDS an exclusive look at how the footballs you see on any given Sunday are made.
Text: Sachin Shenolikar
Photo: DAVID E. KLUTHO/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED