Ever wonder why the official Wilson NFL football is called, “The Duke?” Or why the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers are around to play this weekend? You can thank the NY Football Giants and acts of beneficence!
There would not be an NFL if it weren’t for former NY Giants Hall-of-Fame owner Wellington “Duke” Mara. The NFL in the 1950s wasn’t the economic powerhouse that it is today. But the fact that it has become so is due solely to a decision taken by Mara to share a new revenue source: television rights.
As the owner of the New York franchise, Mara could have pressed his advantage and cut a better financial deal for the Giants… and himself. But he chose instead to propose a plan under which each each team would share revenue equally. Why did he do this? “Well” was not only a fierce competitor of Pittsburgh Steelers owner Art Rooney, but also a very dear friend. The two Irishmen (both daily Communicants) were such great friends that one of Wellington’s granddaughters, actress Rooney Mara, bears both names.
But it wasn’t (just) his friendship with Art that led Mara to want to divide the TV revenue pie equally. Mara realized that without those monies, small-market teams, such as Pittsburgh and Green Bay (subsequently coached by former Giants offensive coordinator Vince Lombardi, himself a daily Communicant) not only wouldn’t be able to compete for the best players, but might not survive at all! What good would having more TV money be if he didn’t have teams to play?
This lesson — that in giving we actually receive — is applicable to all of our lives.
So how do you get a football named after you? Wellington Mara’s nickname, “Duke” (as in the Duke of Wellington, British general who defeated Napolean at Waterloo), is the name of the football used in today’s game: “The Duke.”
Written by: Timothy Shea
On Twitter: @timbotim62
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