fueled by touchdowns

Inflating America’s most popular sport for the 2018 Alamo Bowl.

Inflating America’s most popular sport for the 2018 Alamo Bowl.

Football has lived a long and sordid history, evidenced by the fact we sometimes still refer to it as “pigskin.” But were footballs ever truly stitched together from hog hides? Are they still? The answer is more than skin deep. American football is a hybrid of Native American sports and British rugby, and the earliest versions indeed saw players blowing up animal bladders — often from pigs — with their mouths. Ew.

But these didn’t hold air that well. Players tried stuffing them with straw but that made the shape oblong and changed the weight completely.

So as the sport evolved, so did the ball.

With the invention of vulcanized rubber in the mid-1840s, the trajectory of sports — namely football, basketball and soccer — was forever altered.

While a significant number of footballs today are completely constricted from petroleum-based materials — a more affordable, resilient and “grip-able” choice — college and professional players use a ball whose panels come from cowhide. However, the stitching, laces and internal lining (still referred to as its bladder) are supremely synthetic.

The fastest pass ever recorded was 60 MPH.