ADA, OHIO (WTOL) - It turns out, northwest Ohio plays an integral role in this year’s Super Bowl.
The connection will be hard to miss. Every game ball, at every NFL game, every year, has been manufactured at Wilson Sporting Goods' factory in Ada, about an hour south of Toledo.
Roughly 80 people work at the plant making each of the balls by hand. The process is so detail-oriented, so particular and deliberately precise, and according to the employees, they wouldn’t want it any other way.
"This is a special time of year,” said plant manager Andy Wentling.
Every Wilson football is built from scratch, by hand in Ada. The ones you buy in the store, the balls at your kid's Pop Warner games and those you'll see Tom Brady and Jared Goff holding in Atlanta on Sunday.
"It's just great, just knowing that I've had a hand on that ball that's going to the game, the big game,” said Mark Conley, a turner at the plant.
There are 216 balls are built specifically for the championship each year, 108 being given to each team. Each ball is cut, stamped, sewn, turned, laced, inflated, molded and quality checked before being shipped off.
It's hard, nitty-gritty work. But in this case, employees say the end most certainly justifies the means.
"You take pride in what you do,” said Donna Conley, who laces the footballs. “Everyone in here takes pride in their job."
“I kind of wonder if that’s one of the ones I’ve sewn,” said Sandy Sibert, a seven-year employee who sews the balls together, referencing her thoughts when she sees a ball on television. “It’s kind of humbling.”
Every last NFL game ball has been manufactured in Ada since 1941.
"To see a game ball on the field just makes you so proud,” Wentling said. “The passion that we use here. Just everything that goes into it, and I know that we built that football."
"A lot of times when I'm watching the game, I'm watching to see if they zoom in on the ball,” Mark Conley said.
So while Ohio might not have a team to cheer on this year, there's still a rooting interest.
"We know there’s gonna be a winner, we know there’s gonna be a loser,” said Loyd Conley, who cuts each leather panel for the footballs.