How much does the NFL pay for each football?

My friend has lately been complaining about the nets used in NFL games preventing kicked balls from going to the fans. He says that the NFL is being cheap and lame.

I originally replied that you wouldn’t want those balls anyway, because they are kicker balls, and not the actual balls used by any players that matter. He correctly pointed out that this was a nit-pick position, at best.

So my question is, just how cheap is the NFL being? I searched on google, but could not find, how much the NFL actually pays for an individual football.

So how much is it? Are kicker balls any different in price?

Also of note would be insurance costs other sports have to pay that the NFL may be able to avoid by using the nets. Any info on this?

The only argument I could muster in the original debate was that at least the NFL will never have to face that laughably ugly legal battle MLB caused with the 70th homerun ball. (or whichever number it was.)

It’s 5:35am est. on a Sunday morning, or I would have called them myself. This is not a difficult thing to do, ok?

National Football League Corporate Offices
280 Park Avenue
New York, NY. 10017
(212) 450- 2000 or 450-1860

Call and ask for Public Affairs. They will likely be happy to answer your O.P., even if it is not normally publicized. I’d WAG ( although this is G.Q. ), that they purchase them at wholesale price from the maker. Wilson? Whomever. They need a few hundred per weekend, a few thousand at least per season, each with the official N.F.L. logo imprinted upon them.

Call and ask.


I think one of the real reasons the NFL treats the balls differently from MLB is that the MLB can’t use them in the game again. Notice that even a pitch into the dirt is often taken from the game, to be used for batting practice, etc. There are too many pitchers who can make use of scratches and cuts on the ball to affect the flight.

What’s that quote from Jim Bouton about Whitey Ford using cut balls? Something like, “Whitey could make that ball do everything but sing an aria on the way to the plate.” Yogi was cutting the ball on his sharpened shin protector buckle, IIRC.

Keith Hernandez tells how one of the Mets coaches collected a bucket of balls from a Mike Scott/Astros game, all with the same three-scratch pattern on them.

My guess is the primary purpose of the nets is not cost. Perhaps to reduce fighting over the balls or returning them to play etc.

On average, the number of balls that could go into the stands is rather small, perhaps 10 per game. Occassionally a pass or punt but for the most part it would be PAT and fields goals. Longer FGA would be uncommon.

The average number of PAT and FG attempts in the regular NFL season last year was slightly less than 8 per game.

Well, about 15 years ago while at a Bucs game (back when the uniforms were ugly orange and Testaverde was leader of the losers) I was told the balls cost $250 each…of course I have no cite/link but it’s a start!

$74.99 retail according to this Wilson page…

It wouldn’t surprise me if they got them free.

The number of footballs used per game might have gone up slightly because the NFL requires that brand new footballs have to be used in kicking situations.

In the past, kickers would ask for older, softer balls to kick with. But now they are almost right out of the wrapper. The ball boys with an orange K on their back are the ones whose job it is to get those in to the game.

Is this for every kick? What about in unpredictable situations like when a quarterback quick-kicks the ball on 3rd down?

aahala is correct, as I noted on another thread. Nets are to prevent fites for the balls, not to save $. NFL is a Billion dollar business- the nets cost more than the balls they save anyway.

The NHL put nets in last year after a girl died from a puck to the head. That’s where the savings is-lives & $ from lawsuits. BTW, how does the NBA make fans return balls?

It’s hard to hide a basketball in your pocket.

Seriously, I think it’s partly just that everyone knows that you’re supposed to, so they do. Legally, there’s probably a note on your ticket or the policies of the NBA or the arena that require you to return it.

Basketballs don’t often go into the stands. The people who sit in the courtside seats at NBA games can likely afford to buy many, many, many, many basketballs.

From the NFL Digest of Rules :

“Twelve (12) new footballs, sealed in a special box and shipped by the manufacturer, will be opened in the officials’ locker room two hours prior to the starting time of the game. These balls are to be specially marked with the letter “k” and used exclusively for the kicking game.”

Since there are only 12 K-balls available, and they MUST be used on all punts, field goals, extra points, and kickoffs, the NFL has to hang on to them.

To answer the earlier question regarding quick kicks, I would assume that the K-ball is only brought onto the field when a player listed as a kicker or punter on the team’s official roster is on the field.

Yeah, but what a souvenir! I don’t recall anything on the back of a ticket. Just convention. Also, a ball is NOT new. Before a game a ref goes over to the ball rack & bounces a few balls & picks out the best one. It would screw up the game to change balls. But I disagree, balls go into the stands every game-granted a row or two only. BTW, long before my time convention in baseball required throwing baseballs back.

Since quick kicks are extremely rare in the NFL, I doubt it’s a big deal if they don’t get a “K” ball in the game.

As I recall, if a player purposefully throws a ball into the stands or keeps a ball (that he scores with, etc.) he automatically gets a fine from the NFL (aka “No Fun League”). That might be where the $250/ball Bob55 mentioned comes from. Since they are limited in numbers, I’m guessing that the fine for taking a “K” ball out of play might be a bit heavier.

Unfortunately, can’t find the right Google terms for an official reference to this.

You hit the same problem that I did with google.

My friend told me last night he heard Tiki Barber make this argument in an interview, which he agreed with and then started the debate with me. He quoted Tiki as saying the balls cost $75.

I think doctordoowop hit the nail on the head with:

Thanks for the feedback, all.