Why Is The NFL Football Darker Than Store-Bought Version?

nfl football

Why Is The NFL Football Darker Than Store-Bought Version?

Have you ever wondered why NFL footballs look much darker than store-bought versions? Well, there are a few different reasons behind why that is. Let’s take a closer look and answer those questions.

Reason 1: The Leather

NFL footballs are made from cowhide, a much higher quality than synthetic leather used for recreational balls. The tanning process causes cowhide to darken and become more durable over time, giving it a distinctively darker hue than store-bought models.

Reason 2: How The Ball Is Aged

To ensure that an NFL football maintains its shape and texture over time, each ball undergoes an aging process that takes place over several months. This aging process involves exposing the ball to temperatures as low as -20 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 140 degrees Fahrenheit while also subjecting it to different humidity and pressure levels.

This helps break down some of the fibers within the cowhide so they can be easily manipulated into their desired shape and texture. As a result, this helps give an NFL football its superior performance characteristics compared to store-bought versions.

Reason 3: Maintenance

An official game ball goes through rigorous tests before being approved for game day, including maintaining proper inflation levels at all times and having adequate grip so players can handle it without issue.

To help keep these properties intact over time, balls are subjected to regular cleaning sessions to remove dirt and grime build-up from regular playtime. Which can further darken them compared to recreational models not subjected to such maintenance routines.


All in all, there’s quite a bit of science behind why an official NFL football looks so different from its store-bought counterparts—from what kind of leather is used down to how well it’s maintained throughout its lifetime. With this knowledge in mind, sports fans everywhere can now appreciate just how unique each game-day ball is.