Where do NFL balls come from?

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The Super Bowl requires 22 steers to make 216 leather-bound footballs, with a minimum of 2,800 cows needed for footballs alone each season. The NFL’s expansion to 17 games and 14 playoff teams means even more cows will be needed. Other Super Bowl facts include loaner cars for players and expensive ticket prices.

The Super Bowl is one of sporting’s biggest events, but for a growing number of people concerned about animal welfare, it’s not a day of celebration. The single game that marks the end of the NFL season requires the hides of 22 steers (neutered male cattle) to make the 216 leather-bound footballs needed for game day. Kevin Murphy, general manager of official NFL football supplier Wilson Football, told Yahoo! that the hide of a cow is enough to make about 10 balloons. If you do the math, you’ll come up with some scary numbers for every NFL season: there are 32 teams, each playing a minimum of 16 games; the postseason tacks on a total of 10 more games, split between 12 teams. That’s 266 games. And while not all require as many footballs as the Super Bowl, even at half that number (108 balls) you’re looking at more than 28,000 footballs per season. That’s a minimum of 2,800 cows that take the ax for footballs alone, not to mention all the snacks that go with a Super Bowl party. And there’s more bad news for the Cattle in the 2020-2021 season: The NFL is expanding its regular season to 17 games and the number of playoff teams to 14.

Some Super Bowl stunners:

Every NFL player that makes it to the big game gets a new loaner car to drive for the week leading up to the championship.
Seats to the first Super Bowl in 1967 cost between $6 and $12 USD; in 2020, they were around $6,000 each.
Every ball used in every Super Bowl was imprinted with the words “Wilson”, “Commissioner” and “Made in the USA”

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