Game Balls

World Football League
1974–1975

The World Football League was the brainchild of Gary L. Davidson, former president of the World Hockey Association and one of the founders of the American Basketball Association. Planned as a summer alternative to the NFL, the league debuted on July 10, 1974 with 12 teams in three divisions playing a 20-game schedule. The WFL introduced several rules changes to bring in fans. They moved the kickoff back 10 yards, moved the goal posts from the goal line to the end line, returned missed field goals to the line of scrimmage, increased the value of a touchdown from 6 to 7 points and eliminated the extra point. Instead, teams ran or passed for an “action point.” Receivers needed one foot in-bounds as in college, fair catches were eliminated on punt returns, and a 15-minute overtime was instituted for games tied at the end of regulation. Offensive backs were allowed to go in motion toward the line of scrimmage prior to the snap, and the hash marks were moved inward. The first (and only) World Bowl was held on December 5, 1974.

The 1975 season began on July 26 with 10 teams competing. The season got off to a rocky start when the league had to assume daily operations of the Chicago Winds, folding the team after only 4 games. On October 22 the league held a press conference to annouce the WFL was disbanding, citing bad weather, unfair competition with the NFL, media skepticism, and confusion over player contracts as reasons.

The 1974 WFL game ball is a distinctive Spalding model made of yellowish-tan leather with continuous orange stripes at both ends. It’s also unusual in that three panels contain logos. In 1975 the league switched to a more conventional-looking brown leather ball with white stripes and a single logo. Prototype balls differed from productions models, as seen on the 1974 media guide shown above.

WFL ball WFL ball WFL ball WFL ball