Who is Wellington Mara? How did he get his nickname “The Duke” on every NFL football?

Wellington Mara was born on August 14th, 1916 in Rochester, New York. Mara was the son of Timothy Mara, the owner and founder of the New York Giants football team.

In 1930, Wellington’s father Tim Mara split ownership interests between Wellington and his older brother Jack. Wellington was only 14 when he earned a piece of the New York Giants franchise. Wellington Mara jumped into the New York Giants’ front office right after graduating from Fordham.

He held many different positions with the New York Giants. Wellington served as an assistant to the President and treasurer in 1937, and he then moved up to Secretary in 1938-1940.

Mara didn’t stop there. He held the following positions with the New York Giants: Vice President and Secretary, Vice President, President, and Co-Chief Executive Officer.

The Mara brothers were the owners of the NFL’s largest market in 1960. Wellington and Jack Mara made the decision to share their television revenue with smaller market teams like the Pittsburgh Steelers and Green Bay Packers. Jack and Wellington Mara started a trend that is still used to this day by sharing revenue to help the NFL grow.

The New York Giants were successful under the leadership of Wellington Mara. He led the Giants to six NFL titles, including their two Super Bowl wins, nine conference championships and 13 division championships. It’s hard to mention the New York Giants franchise without mentioning Wellington Mara.

How did Wellington Mara get his nickname “The Duke” on every NFL football?

NFL - 2006 Annual Meeting - March 27, 2006
NFL – 2006 Annual Meeting – March 27, 2006

Wellington Mara received the nickname “The Duke” from the New York Giants football players because they knew his father named him after the Duke of Wellington.

Wellington Mara’s nickname will be remembered forever as it’s inscribed on every NFL football.

NFL football received the name “The Duke” to honor Wellington Mara. The name was also chosen to honor Wellington’s father Timothy Mara, who arranged the contract that made Wilson the NFL’s game ball supplier.

The first game ball with “The Duke” printed on it was used in 1941. When the NFL and AFL merged together in 1970, Wilson used a different design for the NFL game ball.

After Wellington Mara passed away in October 2005, “The Duke” returned to its rightful position on NFL game balls in 2006.

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