The Super Bowl is Truly an American-made Affair, In More Ways Than One

By Jeffrey Bonior
Feb 01 2018 |
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, left, and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady appear on stage together during Super Bowl media day. Also pictured: the Vince Lombardi Trophy, which is made by Tiffany & Co. in New Jersey. | Photo courtesy

The footballs, helmets, jerseys and more are all American-made.

MORE SUPER BOWL COVERAGE: U.S. Bank Stadium, Home to Super Bowl LII, is a Made in America Marvel

The Super Bowl is uniquely American — and many of the trappings of America’s pinnacle sporting event are Made in America.

More than 100 million people are expected to watch the defending champion New England Patriots take on the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday in Super Bowl LII at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Along with the action on the gridiron, viewers will witness American ingenuity with innovative gear and memorabilia that is uniquely American.

Here are some samples of Super Bowl essentials proudly manufactured by American workers.

The Coin: Before kickoff, team captains and officials will join 15 military Medal of Honor recipients at midfield to determine which teams begin the game on offense and defense. World War II veteran Hershel Woodrow “Woody” Williams, who received the Medal of Honor during the Battle of Iwo Jima, will toss the coin. For the 25th consecutive year, the coin will be provided by the The Highland Mint, a company of 175 employees located in a 40,000 square-foot building in Melbourne, Fla.

The NFL designs the coin, and Highland Mint owner and president Michael Kott makes sure it is a finely crafted with American-sourced raw materials.

“We get everything thing we need to make the coins from American manufacturers. We believe in supporting the United States. We are an American manufacturer and we believe in supporting other American manufacturers.” Michael Kott, The Highland Mint

“Every year the NFL sends us different artwork for the coins,” Kott said. “The Super Bowl logo, which changes every year, is on one side of the coin, and the flip side has the logo of the teams.”

Patriots and Eagles connote symbols of America themselves, but Kott makes sure the coins are Made in America using American-sourced materials.

“We get everything thing we need to make the coins from American manufacturers,” Kott said. “We believe in supporting the United States. We are an American manufacturer and we believe in supporting other American manufacturers.”

The Highland Mint has created 10,000 numbered coins for Super Bowl LII. The NFL received 100 copies of the commemorative coin, and the remaining 9,900 are on sale to the public. The coin with serial No. 1 will be used for the official coin toss, and the other 99 will be given to various dignitaries.

The company also makes coin No. 0 each year, which is to be used only if the game goes into overtime. Last year’s Patriots victory was the first Super Bowl to do so, which meant that after 25 years, coin No. 0 finally made a Super Bowl appearance.

The commemorative coins and other Super Bowl memorabilia can be found on the company’s website or at select retailers across the United States.

The Helmets: More than 92 percent of all NFL players’ helmets are supplied by Riddell Sports Group and Schutt Sports. There are a few additional smaller companies, such as Xenith, whose helmets are worn by a handful of players and Vicis, a startup based in Washington state that makes high-tech helmets with a goal of preventing concussions and other brain injuries suffered by NFL players.

Schutt Sports is a growing supplier of helmets for the NFL. In this year’s game, Schutt has 36 players who will be wearing its helmets, 18 on each team.

“For us, and for the Patriots, that’s a historic high,” said Glenn Beckmann, Schutt’s director of marketing communications. “We were pretty much at one (Patriot helmet) four years ago, so they have really responded well to the new products that we’ve brought onto the field.”

Headquartered in Litchfield, Ohio, Schutt operates manufacturing facilities in Salem, Ill., a reconditioning plant in Easton, Pa., and recently acquired Pro Gear Sports in Jacksonville, Fla., Schutt is keeping it truly American-made, as it has been for nearly 100 years.

Among the New England players who will be wearing Schutt helmets are Danny Amendola, last year’s Super Bowl hero Chris Hogan, and defensive backs Stephon Gilmour and Patrick Chung. Philadelphia players donning Schutt headgear include All-Pro offensive lineman Lane Johnson, quarterback Nick Foles, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and running back LeGarrette Blunt.

“We have about 38 percent of the NFL wearing our helmets, but a little over 50 percent of the skilled positioned players wear our helmets, because they are lighter weight than anything else on the field,” Beckmann said. “Those guys want to feel as fast as possible. Two ounces doesn’t seem like much, but we fight tooth and nail to get every gram and ounce out of those helmets while still maintaining high performance.”

Schutt executives need to look no further than the 350 to 500 people it employees each year for Super Bowl high performance.

Meanwhile, Riddell has been producing football helmets at all levels of football competition for more than 85 years. During last year’s game, as many as 65 percent of the helmets on the field were made by Riddell. Riddell also makes other football-related equipment at its massive, new factory in Des Plaines, Ill.

Team Jerseys: There are two things you can be certain about concerning the jerseys for Sunday’s Big Game – the colors and knowing that your replica jersey will not be identical to those worn by the players on the US Bank Stadium field.

The jerseys for each team will be provided under a contract with Nike, the Beaverton, Ore.-based company for NFL on-field apparel, according to Sports Business Journal. They are Made in America, customized to the specifications of each individual player.

While the replica jerseys worn by fans may look like the real Made-in-America deal, most likely are imports from China, Indonesia, Honduras and many other inexpensive labor-cost countries.

The Footballs: Wilson Sporting Goods makes a variety of footballs for use in games at levels ranging from pee-wee competition to the NFL. But it’s the 120 workers at the Wilson Football Factory in rural Ada, Ohio who will be beaming with pride on Sunday when their handiwork is on display for the world to see.

Wilson provides all the footballs used throughout the NFL season and averages a production of more than 700,000 footballs per year. For the Super Bowl pigskins, manufacturing begins the day after the conference championship games, because each ball needs to be stamped with the logos of the Super Bowl teams and the Super Bowl LII official logo.

The factory in Ada has made every football that has been used in a Super Bowl game. The plant workers exclusively make footballs; other Wilson Sporting Goods products are manufactured at additional facilities throughout the world. Wilson became the NFL’s official football maker in 1941.

For Sunday’s game, Wilson provided 108 official footballs that were sent to the Patriots and Eagles about a week before the championship game so the teams could practice with the same balls they will use on Sunday.

The Victory Celebration: No Super Bowl would be complete without the obligatory Gatorade bath the winning head coach receives from his players.

Gatorade is the flavored sports energy drink that graces every NFL game sideline, available for players to replenish their need for fluids during competition. Gatorade is a division of PepsiCo., and is produced at facilities worldwide.

One of the Gatorade manufacturing facilities is in Indianapolis, where approximately 355 members of the United Steelworkers produce the drink. Members of USW Local 1999 are known to take enormous pride when they watch their product become the centerpiece of the post-game baptismal celebration.

The Trophy: The winning team receives the Vince Lombardi Trophy, made by the prestigious American jeweler Tiffany & Co. in a silversmith shop on the Tiffany campus in Parsippany, N.J. The 22-inch, seven-pound trophy is created during a four-month period by 25 employees. The Tiffany campus itself employs nearly 1,000 workers.

The design for the Lombardi Trophy was sketched in 1966 on a cocktail napkin by Tiffany’s vice president Oscar Riedener during a meeting with then-NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle. Tiffany has produced that same design for every Super Bowl since the 1966 Green Bay Packers won the first Super Bowl, which was then called the AFL-NFL World Championship Game. The Packers, of course, were led by legendary NFL coach Vince Lombardi.

The Winner: Will it be the New England Patriots or Philadelphia Eagles? That result will come late Sunday night. But for now, one thing we can be sure of on Super Bowl Sunday is that American manufacturing will come out on top.