Category Archives: College Football

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9 Best Footballs for 2020 : Options for All Ages

Football is a surprisingly versatile sport when you consider the ways in which it can be played. For example, what usually comes to mind is probably professional or college football and players with helmets, padding, and all the necessary equipment. Or maybe you think of high school football or a neighborhood league. But you can also play flag football in the park, touch football on the beach, or just toss the ball around in the backyard.
Top Football Comparison Chart

PictureNamePriceWhere to Buy?

1. Wilson “The Duke” Official NFL Game Football
$$$$Check Price on Amazon

2. Spalding AFL Official Leather Game Ball Arena Football League
$$$Check Price on Amazon

3.  Nike Vapor Strike Official Football
$$Check Price on Amazon

4. Spalding Never Flat Football
$$Check Price on Amazon

5. Wilson NFL Super Grip Official Football
$Check Price on Amazon

6. Under Armour Gripskin 625 Football
$$Check Price on Amazon

7. Wilson NCAA GST Game Football
$$$$Check Price on Amazon

8. POOF Spiral Football
$Check Price on Amazon

9. Wilson Official NCAA Training Football
$$$Check Price on Amazon

No matter how you choose to play, the one thing you will definitely need is a football. You might think all footballs are the same, but that’s not true. There is a football for any kind of play. Here’s a round-up of nine of the best and some information about how you can pick the one that’s right for you.
Football Buying Guide
Most footballs have four panels, eight lacings, and two white stripes. But some are neon colored. Some have ridges. Some are weatherproof and some need to be cared for. There’s even a football that syncs with your smartphone to keep track of stats and progress. While a football might seem like an easy thing to buy, there are actually a few key things to consider.
 
Material
Footballs are typically made from three different materials: leather, composites, or foam. There are pros and cons to each.
Leather
Leather is what official National Football League (NFL) balls are made of. The leather is put through a special tanning process that makes them tacky and easier to grip. They’re of the highest quality and will last a long time if you care for them the right way. They have the most effective grip and are what modern football gloves are made for.
Initially, they’ll need some polishing right out of the box to get the grip to where it should be. If you want to make sure your leather football lasts a long time, you’ll have to apply a leather conditioner occasionally, keep it clean, and store it somewhere with good ventilation that’s not too hot or cold. Make sure the leather doesn’t crack or dry out. Some leather footballs are water-resistant and can be used in the rain, but make sure to let them dry completely before putting them into a bag. They’ll need to air out a bit. While most leather footballs can stand some water exposure, it’s probably not a good idea to play with one where it will be exposed to water for extended periods of time, like in a pool or in the water at the beach. Leather footballs are intended to be used on turf or grass.
Composite
Composite footballs are basically made of fake leather. They vary in quality, some can look and feel almost identical to leather and some will be a little less refined. Composite footballs don’t require the upkeep that leather ones do and are much more tolerant to water and weather. They’re not as expensive as leather footballs, but the quality isn’t quite as high. The material is textured, making it easy to grip, but they usually don’t handle very well when they’re wet unless they have an additional special coating. They’re more durable than leather footballs and can take a little more rough play.
Foam
Foam footballs are a bit different from the other kind. They’re not typically used in any sort of official capacity as most leagues and schools prefer real leather or composite. But they are ideal for kids or just for a game of catch in the yard. They’re soft, inexpensive, and completely water-friendly. Foam footballs are a great choice for kids just learning how to throw and catch. They’re soft and forgiving so there’s less chance of injury.
Size
Size is important because, in order to throw the ball effectively and achieve a good spiral, you have to be able to get a firm grip on it. There are a few size options when it comes to footballs. Footballs that are labeled “official size” are the same weight and dimensions as the balls used in the NFL or NCAA. Other footballs might be adult-sized but not conform to the exact measurements of the official footballs. They also make youth balls and pee wee balls for little kids who are just learning how to play. These balls are the perfect size for smaller hands to learn how to throw a spiral.
Extras
There are some nice options available on some footballs. You can get one with your favorite professional or college sports team’s logo on it. Some footballs glow in the dark and others have blank, flat white panels to collect autographs on. Some brands will even laser print your name, jersey number, or phrase onto a ball when you order it. Footballs have even started being equipped with advanced technology, using an app on your smartphone to let you know how much your gameplay has improved. You don’t necessarily need any of these things to play a successful game, but a few of the features available might be something you never thought you could find on a football and could be perfect for you or as a gift for a football lover. (One thing to note, autograph balls were not included in this list as it focuses on footballs used for playing. The white part of an autograph ball is meant to be signed by the athlete and then usually put on display and generally not played with.)
Brand/Cost
Like anything else, you don’t always need to go with the more expensive brand name when buying a football, but the quality is typically higher than generic or unrecognized brands. How much you want to pay and what brand to buy depend on who is using the ball and what they’re using it for. For example, it might not be a good idea to give your child an official game ball for his birthday and your spouse a neon foam football as a gift. Keep in mind that if you’re going to play hard with it, the ball will get more wear and tear. A cheaper brand might need replacing more often, but if it’s going to be used primarily by children, you might need to replace it every season anyway. Find a balance between quality and cost and pick the one that makes the most sense for you.
Once you’ve considered all of these things, you should have a good idea of what kind of football is a good fit and be able to find an appropriate option from our selections.
Best Football Reviews
 
1.  Wilson “The Duke” Official NFL Game Football

This is an official game ball of the NFL with deep texture for enhanced grip. It has a three-ply VPU bladder and strong double lacing. Because it is the official size and weight of an NFL game ball and bears the signature stamp of the NFL commissioner, this ball is more expensive than an average football. But it’s strong, durable, and the perfect choice for a die-hard NFL fan.
It should be noted that, because this ball is leather, it will require some care immediately out of the box. The ball won’t look like a standard game ball when you first get it, it will look more dull and pale. This is normal. Care instructions are included which will instruct you on how to use water, a brush, and pressure to restore the tacky grip and get it to that familiar brown color. Some red dye will come off during this process, so be sure to use an old towel or something disposable when completing this process.
Pros:

Official NFL game ball
Strong and durable
Leather
High quality

Cons:

Price
Requires initial care and ongoing maintenance to properly care for leather
Should not expose to water for long periods of time

 
2.   Spalding AFL Official Leather Game Ball Arena Football League
If you’re looking for a more reasonably priced leather football, consider the Spalding Official AFL (Arena Football League) ball.   It has a leather cover for good grip and sturdy, white laces for higher visibility. It’s rubberized laces provide better grip and the water-resistant lining makes sure it doesn’t absorb water, allowing its weight to stay consistent in poor weather. It’s four-ply bladder really retains its shape well and it holds air so it won’t need to be reinflated frequently.  This ball was manufactured in an inventory overrun for the Arena Football League in 2016.  This is part of a whole pile of extra balls made to the exact specifications of an AFL ball, but more balls were made than needed.
Now is your chance to get one at a rock bottom price!
This ball offers all the benefits of more expensive leather balls at a price that’s a little more reasonable. It’s not an official NFL ball, but its a great ball for middle and high school games.
Pros:

More affordable leather options
Water-resistant

Cons:

Some maintenance

 

3.   Nike Vapor Strike Official Football

This offering from Nike is a favorite of quarterbacks.  With its proprietary leather cover and tacky finish, it’s easy to hold on to.  It has a spiral design to help get better height and distance along with more accurate aiming.  It’s a great ball in most weather conditions and it maintains its shaps and holds air very well.  The TPU bladder maximizes air and shape retention for the best and most consistent performance.
This is a good all-around ball because it’s a good price, it’s easy to catch and easy to throw. It’s a simple, straightforward ball that is great for most situations and it comes at a reasonable price.

Pros:

Price
Good grip
Easy to throw
Official regulation football

Cons:

Because of deeper color and grip surface, 

 
4.  Spalding Never Flat Football

This is a really strong and durable ball that can really take a beating. It has amazing air retention and will be able to maintain its shape no matter how hard you play.  Keep in mind that it’s a recreational ball and it’s made of rubber.  The price reflects that.  However, Spalding’s NitroFlate air technology is used to eliminate air seepage.  It features a valve with a cap to eliminate or minimize leakage and it keeps dirt out.  Overall, while not a ball for any serious play, the backyard quarterback will appreciate this ball for its durability over years of service.  It’ll take a beating and last even though it’s left on the lawn behind the shed!
Pros:

NitroFlate Technology virtually eliminates any air leaks
Valve with cap also virtually eliminates air leaks
Durable

Cons:

Not a competition ball

 

5.  Wilson NFL Super Grip Official Football

The Wilson NFL Super Grip Official Football is one of the brand’s lower cost options. It’s top of the line Wilson quality at a great price. This one is an official NFL sized ball and even has NFL branding on it. It’s high quality, composite leather construction is extremely durable and it has a multi-layered lining to help it maintain its shape.
This ball has a good grip, but it doesn’t have the same feel as a real leather ball or even some other composite balls. The grip wears quicker than it will on other composite balls, but it’s such a good price that it won’t be too financially burdensome to get another one. This would be a good ball for kids or to take on a trip. It most likely won’t last for more than one or two seasons, but it’s still a great ball for the price.
Pros:

Price
Lower cost Wilson brand option

Cons:

Not real leather
Only lasts one or two seasons

 

6.  Under Armour Gripskin 625 Football

The Under Armour Gripskin 625 football is a great ball to take to the beach. It has a unique Spongetech cover that gives it excellent grip even when it’s wet. It’s called “gripskin” because it promises ultimate tack and grip in all kinds of weather, including in the ocean or inside a pool.
It’s a regulation-sized football so it’s large and may not fit the small hands of younger children, but the enhanced grip makes it a little easier for them to catch and hang on to than some other footballs. It’s not real leather, but you’d never really know. It arrives in the packaging inflated and ready to go. There’s no special care required for this ball, you can open the package and take it right to the beach to play.
Pros:

Price
Good grip

Cons:

Not real leather

 

7.  Wilson NCAA GST Game Football

This ball holds some impressive statistics and that’s why it’s over $70 while many others are a third of that price!  It happens to be the most widely used game ball in the United States of America – PERIOD!  It’s the official ball of the NCAA (which has a lot more teams than the NFL) and it’s used by nearly 70% of all high school and college teams in America.  That’s a popular ball!  
GST is the absolute softest leather on the market (It also stands for Goods and Services Tax which is Canada’s national tax, but that’s another issue altogether!!).  It has a very specific and distinct feel to it and the color is a very specific light brown.  Because of its softness and tack, the GST Game ball is really easy to control.  The two white stripes are NOT PAINTED on like most, but are in fact a composite material that is SEWN onto the ball and it provides 82% more grip.  The lacing itself is pebbled and that’s unusual.  It’s called Accurate Control Lacing (ACL) which (according to Wilson) provides 174% more grip in every condition.
It’s made fully right here in the USA (in Ada, Ohio actually).
Pros:

Softest leather outer skin on planet earth
Approved by NCAA, NFHS
Most widely used game ball in the United States of America!
4.2 out of 5 rating on Amazon

Cons:

Some users complained about the inconsistency of their construction (ie. different leathers on different quarters, slippery surface, hard to throw spirals, doesn’t hold up, etc.)

 
8.  POOF Spiral Football

The POOF foam football has grooves in it for better grip so it can be thrown more accurately. This ball is a great way to introduce someone to the game because it’s lightweight, easy to throw, and not so heavy that it will hurt to catch. Because it’s foam, it’s safe to play with anywhere – in the pool or in the ocean that beach. It’s also a great ball to use for indoor school sports programs or gym classes.
Because it’s made of foam, it won’t hold up very well to wear and tear. It could easily tear or be ripped apart if a young child or pet gets a hold of it. You may not even get one season out of this ball, but it’s exceptionally affordable and won’t cost much to replace.
Pros:

Price
Safe for water play

Cons:

Will need frequent replacing

 

9.  Wilson Official Training Football Series Ball

Here’s a bit of an unusual entry to our list this year.  It’s virtually identical to our ball at #7.  It has all the most coveted features like real GST leather, official qualities of all the NCAA college official game balls, softness, ACL laces, and the list goes on!  THE ONLY DIFFERENCE that we’ve found is that the white stripes on this ball are painted on rather than composite material which is sewn on for the official ball (the Wilson GST NCAA game ball).  So, the difference is about $30 between these two balls and that price is the difference between getting sewn-on stripes or painted stripes.  Your call!  
We thought we’d like to include this ball since it’s just as good but a good deal less expensive and makes sense for most athletes who spend far more time “practicing” or “training” or even “goofing around” rather than playing.  This is YOUR ball!
Pros:

Has all features of the official NCAA GST leather game ball other than the stripes
For the small difference of sewn stripes or painted stripes, you pay $30 less

Cons:

Not much on this one except if you REALLY, REALLY need to have sewn-on composite material stripes!

 

Conclusion & Recommendations
That’s the list of our nine best footballs of this year! Once you figure out the way you’re going to play, you’ll be able to see which one is the best fit for you.
If you’re looking for a high quality, real leather option that’s an official ball of the NFL, then the Wilson “The Duke” Official Game Ball is a great choice. But If you want a real leather ball that’s a little less pricey, the Spalding TF-Gold Varsity Top Grain Leather Full Size Premium Football is a great choice.
There are a lot of great options for composite leather balls. The Nike Spiral Tech 3.0 Official Football is billed as a quarterback’s favorite thanks to its good grip and how easy it is to throw. The Spalding J5V Advance Composite Leather Football is great for even the coldest, wettest weather. The Wilson NFL Super Grip Official Football is a reasonably priced option from one of the top brands with great grip and multiple layered lining to help it maintain its shape and last a long time.
The Under Armour Gripskin 625 Football is the perfect ball for the beach thanks to its Spongetech cover that gives it exceptional grip. The Poof Spiral Football is a foam ball that’s perfect for the beach, too, and is so inexpensive, it won’t be a problem to replace it if it gets lost or damaged.
If you want to take it up a notch, the Wilson X Connected Football syncs to a smartphone app and can not only give you stats about your throw but can also keep track of eight profiles so you can play against your friends.
As you can see, there are a lot of different options when it comes to choosing a football. Use this list to help you figure out which is the best one for you.

 

The post 9 Best Footballs for 2020 : Options for All Ages appeared first on Sport Consumer.


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The 10 Biggest Changes in 100 Years of the NFL

When the NFL first started in 1920, it wasn’t the high-flying spectacle it is now. Here are the moments that shaped America’s game in 100 years of the NFL.
The 10 Biggest Changes in 100 Years of the NFL
Photo Credit: Betway NFL
The Forward Pass
The passing game isn’t nearly what it used to be during the early years of the NFL. The NFL in its early stages resembled a game closer to that of the game of Rugby and forward passes were considered illegal.

When forward passes were allowed—although still rare—quarterbacks could only throw the ball forward from within five yards of the line of scrimmage. It wasn’t until 1933 that the NFL began to separate itself from college football where they began to allow forward passes from anywhere behind the line of scrimmage. This is what would come to shape the game of football that we know today.

At this same time, it was rare to see a quarterback throw for big numbers. In the 1932 season, no quarterback threw for more than 640 yards or nine touchdowns. In 2015, we saw Drew Brees throw for 505 yards and seven touchdowns in one game—an NFL record for passing touchdowns in a single game.
The Draft
The volatility of one team going from the bottom dwellers to winning a super bowl title in a couple of seasons is what makes the NFL Draft one of the most exciting sports events of the year.

In 1936, the NFL, in a bid to restore a competitive and take leverage away from the players, held its inaugural draft. Franchises would begin taking turns selecting college players, with the worst team from each previous season picking first. Before then, the players held all the cards as teams would engage in chaotic bidding wars to sign amateur players right out of college.

Within the next 30 years, every other major sports league would follow suit and hold their own inaugural draft.
Racial Integration
During the league’s formative years, its players and coaches were almost exclusively white, despite having a handful of black players in its very early seasons. Between 1934 and 1946, there were no black players at all.

Ultimately, in 1946, UCLA Bruins running back, Kenny Washington—who is regarded as one of the best collegiate players ever— broke the race barrier and became the first African-American to sign an NFL contract.

From then on, the NFL slowly integrated black players into the league, with most coming from the AFL/NFL merger in 1970.

As of 2014, the NFL’s player pool was 68% African-American. But the issues of race in sports is still ongoing despite the NFL’s ground-breaking Rooney Rule (2003), which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for every head coaching vacancy. As of the beginning of the 2019 NFL season, only three of the 32 NFL head coaches are African-American.
The Schedule
The NFL’s early years were chaotic in terms of teams’ schedules. At one point, there was no set schedule and franchises wound up playing any teams they could arrange a match with, which even included teams from outside of the league. Because of the unorganized structure of the games, the amount of match-ups teams got varied widely. Some teams were able to play 10 or more games, while the Muncie Flyers played just one, to which they lost and put them in last place.

Oddly enough, there was no championship game in the early years. Title winners were voted on by team owners at an end-of-season meeting. In 1933, the NFL revised its strange formula and had its inaugural title game between the Chicago Bears and New York Giants. In 1936, the NFL would begin having all nine teams play 12 games each, and since 1978, the regular season has been comprised of 16 games for each team.
The Helmets
It’s frightening to imagine the kind of helmet-to-helmet contact we see today happening with the soft leather caps players wore in the NFL’s early years. In the 1940s and 1950s, the NFL finally moved on to using plastic helmets with face masks to polymer helmets that are universal in today’s game.

The decision to move away from the leather caps was intended to improve player safety. But brain injuries like CTE are still a key concern today and the league continues to push rule changes around the league and make that kind of harsh contact illegal in the game.

In 2013, the league was sued by nearly 4,500 former players for concussion-related injuries.
The AFL Merger
In 1959, the founding of the American Football League (AFL) quickly threatened the dominance of the NFL by luring away top college recruits with lucrative contracts. The NFL recognized that the competition could threaten their talent pool and profitability and by 1966, a deal was agreed to merge the two leagues. The NFL kept its name and the AFL and NFL franchises were separated into two conferences: the AFC and the NFC. At the end of each season, the conference champions would play each other, spawning one of the biggest sporting events in the world…
The Super Bowl
The Super Bowl regularly attracts over 100 million viewers worldwide each year, more than any annual sporting event except the Champions League final. That’s impressive—thanks to the NFL’s marketing strategy—considering American Football is difficult for most outside of the U.S. to understand.

Super Sunday has essentially become a national holiday for American Football fans, and traditions like Super Bowl parties and prop bets have spread to countries even outside of the US.
The Halftime Show
Some of the biggest musical acts in the world like Prince, Michael Jackson, and Beyoncé have produced iconic performances at the Super Bowl halftime show. It’s the biggest in-game entertainment that no other sports league sees and is a big component to just how successful the super bowl is.

Until the 1990s, the half-time show would only feature a marching band with a theme like A Salute to the Big Band Era or It’s a Small World. It wasn’t until Michael Jackson’s iconic 1993 91 million viewer performance that changed everything. The half-time show from then on would be a coveted gig for the world’s biggest artists.

Since then, the half-time show has essentially been as memorable as the game itself. Some unforgettable moments from over the years include Janet Jackson’s Nipplegate, Katy Perry’s ‘Left Shark’, and Lady Gaga’s leap from the stadium roof.
The Salary Cap
Aside from the draft, the salary cap is the NFL’s greatest leveler. While sports like baseball and soccer (sorry, football fans) tend to reward the owners with the deepest pockets, when the NFL introduced the salary cap in 1994, a teams’ success no longer relied on how much money came out of their pockets but on good coaching and talent evaluation.

Take the New England Patriots for example. They have dominated the league since 2000 and their success can be largely attributed to three-time league MVP, Tom Brady—the (almost) undisputed GOAT quarterback and former sixth-round draft pick—and three-time Coach of the Year, Bill Belichick, rather than the checkbook of owner Robert Kraft.
International Expansion
While the NBA and MLB have both played games in London in the last year, it was the NFL that really pioneered the international expansion. The NFL played a handful of exhibition games at Wembley in the 1980s and instantly won over the fans. Now, the NFL attempts to hold a few regular-season games in London every year, thanks to a deal made by Jacksonville Jaguars owner, Shahid Kahn, in 2013. International expansion has even reached Mexico City and it could end up being only a few years from now that we see a league expansion move internationally.

Main Photo:

Photo Credit: Betway NFLThe post The 10 Biggest Changes in 100 Years of the NFL appeared first on Last Word on Sports.


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