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"The Duke" returns


gridironmike

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http://www.newsday.com/sports/football/ny-spduke284678942mar28,0,1552248.story?coll=ny-football-headlines

'The Duke' football salutes Wellington

BY BOB GLAUBER

Newsday Staff Correspondent

March 28, 2006

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - The NFL will honor the memory of Giants co-owner Wellington Mara by bringing back the football named for him. "The Duke" will be written on all game-day footballs, as it was from 1941-69.

Mara, who died last October at 89 after a long battle with cancer, was named after the Duke of Wellington, who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo in 1815.

The late George Halas, the Bears' former coach and owner, made the original suggestion to call the ball "The Duke." The idea of bringing back the name was brought up by outgoing commissioner Paul Tagliabue, who was a close friend and confidant of Mara.

"My mother [Ann] and our family are grateful to commissioner Tagliabue and the rest of the league for the return to 'The Duke' football," said John Mara, the oldest of Wellington Mara's 11 children and his successor as the Giants' president.

"My father treasured his association with the game. He loved his relationships with the players, the coaches, the scouts, the equipment people, the trainers, all the people who make our game possible. 'The Duke' football is a fitting acknowledgement of those relationships and my father's devotion to our league and our sport."

"The Duke" ball was discontinued prior to the 1970 season, the first year of the NFL-AFL merger.

"I got my first 'Duke' football when I was nine years old from the great Steve Van Buren at the Eagles' training camp in my hometown of Hershey, Pa.," Giants general manager Ernie Accorsi said.

"Now it's back. I can think of no tribute that would have pleased Wellington Mara more, because what Mr. Mara was most passionate about was the game and the playing of the game on the field."

Too bad nothing has ever been named for "The Squire." With Snyder selling the naming rights to the stadium, Mr. Cooke's name has been purged from the league.

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Never knew that "The Duke" was named after Mara.

I remember that "The Duke" was THE football to play with when I was a kid. Little kids played with the "K-2" but when you grew up (became a teenager) you only use "The Duke".

But even as a teen, I loved those "K-2s" because they were so small that you could get a better grip on the ball and launch those babies a long way.

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Never knew that "The Duke" was named after Mara.

I remember that "The Duke" was THE football to play with when I was a kid. Little kids played with the "K-2" but when you grew up (became a teenager) you only use "The Duke".

But even as a teen, I loved those "K-2s" because they were so small that you could get a better grip on the ball and launch those babies a long way.

Hell yeah!! I loved the Duke. Every pass I ever threw with that ball was a tight spiral. I don't think I ever threw a duck with that ball. It almost had magical powers. Man, I miss it and am glad to see it's coming back. I lost my last one at a tailgate during my days in Blacksburg and I was devastated.

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06_0327_duke.jpg

This one looks a little different than the original.

http://www.giants.com/news/press_releases/story.asp?story_id=14952

NFL RENAMES OFFICIAL WILSON GAME BALL

IN HONOR OF WELLINGTON MARA

ORLANDO -- March 27, 2006 -- NFL clubs today unanimously endorsed a recommendation to return the name of the official game ball to “The Duke” in honor of the late New York Giants owner WELLINGTON MARA, one of the most beloved and respected figures in professional sports history. Mara died last October.

Mara, who spent 81 years with the New York Giants and made numerous contributions to the NFL, was named Wellington by his father after the Duke of Wellington. He was given the nickname “The Duke” as a youngster by Giants players.

The NFL game ball was known as “The Duke” from 1941-69.

more at link....

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