ADA — In the midst of doing the Guinness Record/Wilson football hullabaloo stuff the past couple weeks, I came across one of, if not THE, “best kept Ada secret of 2019.”

In mid-summer, unbeknownst to practically everyone, Peyton Manning was here. Former NFL “Most Valuable Player,” threw for, like, a gazillion yards, broke multiple QB records…

THAT Peyton Manning!

He was here for a couple days. Village Administrator Jamie Hall, a former college football player himself, knew about it, and the people out at the Wilson Factory knew about it.

But otherwise, not even I knew about it. And I know EVBERYTHING that goes on in Ada! [Okay, okay… So, admittedly, I didn’t know about the ONU “Polar Plunge” thing either. But that’s about it.]

Manning was here to film a segment of his new “Peyton’s Places” episodes.

The piece starts with Manning showing up at the Ada Wilson plant to apply for a job. After reading Manning’s application, factory production line manager Ryan Ulrey told me his line was to (jokingly) say: “I see you’ve been unemployed the last three years.”

Ulrey smiled and said Manning responds that, no, actually he’s “been in insurance” during that time. Read (tongue in cheek): National Nationwide Insurance TV ads. The rest of the episode has Manning going from football making station-to-station trying to do the various jobs, with a good deal of comical incidence.

The short version of the episode aired at halftime of one of the NFL games earlier this year. This version, and a longer 23-minute version, can now be seen online at ESPN+.

I subsequently contacted Wilson’s Amanda Lamb, Global Marketing Director for Wilson Team Sports. Besides telling her how upset I was that I wasn’t kept in the “Ada/Manning visit loop,” I also asked how it had all come about.

She said that, in fact, this was the second time Manning had visited the Ada plant. And ‘NFL Films” had contacted Wilson about doing the piece.

Ms. Lamb said because this is the NFL’s 100th Anniversary, the league has been highlighting a lot of “the key parts of the game,” historically.

And since the Ada plant has been making NFL footballs for more than 60 years now, doing an episode at the plant only made sense.

Note: For those of you who are wondering, since it was two days of filming, Manning stayed at the Inn at ONU – where he registered under the unassuming alias “Joe Namath.” [With the help of Ada Technology Committee Head Ken Lauria, I was able to hack into the Inn’s Guest Registry to learn that.]

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