By Michael Evans
Posted On: Aug 3, 2021
Ohio’s influence can be seen whenever a football is tossed. Ohio is considered the home of the National Football League (better known as the NFL). Below are destinations you can visit to celebrate Ohio’s football history!
“The Eleven” Greatest Moments in Football History in Canton
The nation’s captivity and affection for the sport had its genesis in Canton, when, in 1920, a group of men gathered to create what was originally known as the American Professional Football Association (APFA). In 1922, it was renamed the NFL, and has since become the number one sport in the nation by a landslide!
While the building that served as the site of the original meeting no longer exists, one can find a historical marker at the spot, on the corner of 2nd Street SW and Cleveland Avenue SW in downtown Canton. Also on this corner is a sculpture titled “The Birth of the NFL,” which was installed in 2014 as the first of a series of 11 public art installations to commemorate the 11 greatest moments in football history.
This arts investment in Canton is a project (aptly called “The Eleven”) that began in 2014 and introduced new pieces each year. 10 of the 11 pieces are completed, all by different artists in different mediums. The final piece will be unveiled on Aug. 6. A fan favorite is a sculpture titled “The NFL Draft,” located on the corner of 4th Street NW and Cleveland Avenue NW, which shows the formation of football players carved out of stone.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton
While in Canton, football lovers and history buffs alike can’t pass up a visit to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. This awesome attraction draws thousands of visitors each year. The unique building is unmistakable, with its football-shaped roof and can be seen while driving on I-77 in Stark County. It has been a renowned museum and tourist attraction in the region and nation since it opened over 50 years ago, in 1963.
In recent years, the Pro Football Hall of Fame has grown significantly in size and is constantly updating and modernizing its exhibits. It’s incredibly interactive, with video game simulations and a holographic theater. Hundreds of Hall of Fame inductees, trading cards, jerseys of famous footballers and Super Bowl rings of years past fill the walls of the museum. You can book a guided tour, buy general admission tickets, or choose to plan your visit during one of the many events that take place throughout the year.
The most notable of these events is the week-long celebrations surrounding the Hall of Fame Enshrinement Week and the Hall of Fame Game when tons of famous players and inductees make their way into Canton.
Wilson Football Factory in Ada
While watching a football game, you’ll undoubtedly see another very important piece of Ohio on your screen: the football itself! That’s because the Wilson Football Factory in the Northwest city of Ada, manufactures each and every football that’s used in the Super Bowl. The company prides itself on the incredible amount of time and attention that goes into making each of these quality balls by hand.
The football-making process involves sewing, inflating, molding and lacing – something you can see firsthand by visiting the factory and taking a tour. Not only do they produce the balls for the Super Bowl, but they make thousands of pigskins each day for the NFL, college teams, high schools and the every-day consumer (over 700,000 a year!).
You can even buy footballs on site after taking a tour. To book a visit and reserve your spot for this behind-the-scenes magic, call 419-634-9901. Maybe a football you see being made will end up being the winning touchdown at the big game!
American Whistle Corporation in Columbus
Ohio produces yet another piece of equipment pivotal to each football game: the whistle! It’s an often overlooked yet incredibly necessary item that helps make the game happen. The American Whistle Corporation, located in Columbus, is the only manufacturer of metal whistles in the United States. And they’re quite busy, making more than one million whistles each year!
Of course, not only do professional sports referees use American made whistles, but so do many other professions, including law enforcement, lifeguards and crossing guards. You can get a front row seat to see how these whistles are made (and just how the little ball gets inside the whistle) by booking a tour at the American Whistle Corporation.
For more sport and football attractions in Ohio, check out #OhioFindItHere at Ohio.org.