Game Balls

Arena Football LeagueArena Football League
1987–2008

The Arena Football League was invented in 1981 by James F. Foster and is the only sport to have its own patent. The game is played on a 50-yard field with huge rebound nets behind each endzone. Arena FootballEach team is allowed eight men on the field, all playing both ways with the exception of quarterbacks, kickers, one offensive and two defensive “specialists.” Four men line up on the line of scrimmage, and one receiver may go in motion forward before the snap. Punting is illegal, and the receiving team may field a kickoff or missed field goal that bounces off the nets. The game is fast-paced and pass friendly, with scores of 60–70 points not uncommon. The league played some exhibition games in 1986 before kicking off league play in 1987. In 2000, the league purchased the Indoor Football League and used it to created its own minor league system, Arena 2. For 2009, the league announced it was suspending play and planning to reorganize before resuming play in 2010, citing economic problems with many of the league‘s teams.

The Arena game ball was made by Spalding until 1993. After a long stretch of using a Wilson ball, the league switched back to using a Spalding model in 2004. Over the years, the ball has usually sported a two-tone leather design and the word “Ironman” near the valve, a reference to the award given to a select player each year. For the 2004 season, the AFL introduced a new Spalding with a distinctive khaki color and blue laces, stripe, and cross-hair tip. Spalding even produced an ad touting the new design.

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