Historical Society members (from left to right) Leland Crouse, Jane Hesler, and Rhett Grant pose in front of some old Wilson Football Festival posters.  (submitted photo)
Historical Society members (from left to right) Leland Crouse, Jane Hesler, and Rhett Grant pose in front of some old Wilson Football Festival posters. (submitted photo)

Ada, and the surrounding area, has, indeed, had quite a storied history when it comes to high school and college football.

And it was in December of 1954, that another dimension was added to the area’s pigskin past, if you will. It was then that the Wilson Sporting Goods Company bought O-K Manufacturing in Ada and converted the plant to: solely making footballs.

And some of those footballs, from over the years, were on display at the recent Wilson Football Festival, compliments of the Ada Historical Society.

The Wilson plant here, for instance, has made all the footballs for the NFL since, well, anyone can remember. And the ethos at the plant is such that when Odell Beckham Jr. made that spectacular, now even iconic, one-handed grab as a New York Giant, while the rest of the country marveled at the wide receiver’s athletic ability, a plant manager at Wilson was quoted as saying that first thing he thought of was: how well the football gripped. Its all, apparently, in the football’s dimple structure.

And speaking of dimples…

Prior to the 2000 Super Bowl, the Wilson Football Mobile took off from the plant in Ada on a four-state tour that ended at the Georgia Dome for the game.

A 1999 Dodge Avenger, painted in a leathery looking brown, complete with dimples, a Wilson logo, and football leather upholstery, drove south that day with a send off from the Riverdale High School Pep Band.

But no band was playing when now Hall of Famer Payton Manning slipped into Ada a couple years ago to film an all-day segment at the Wilson Plant for his “Payton Places” TV series. In fact, it was such a stealth mission, not even this reporter knew he was in town.

But what’s not been so stealth, have been the thousands of tourists over the years who have come to Ada to take selfies outside the Wilson plant, and on one special day every year, actually even tour the plant.

Note: And all this football history/lore doesn’t even include the “Guinness Book of World Records: Gazillion-Wilson-Footballs-All-In-The-Air-At-The-Same-Time” event at War Memorial Stadium a few years back. And not one of those footballs was dropped!

Yep, once again: distinctive dimple design.