A keen interest in athletics distinguished the greater part of Gerald R. Ford's life. He ranks among the most athletic of U.S. presidents. Ford excelled in swimming, basketball, baseball, tennis, golf, and downhill skiing. Among the sports of his youth, football harnessed the essence of his athletic prowess. Ford's abilities landed him city and state honors in high school, along with MVP status in college. NFL teams coveted him upon graduation from the University of Michigan. Ford took a different track that eventually landed him in law and public service, though his fondness for football never abated. The love of the game brought him coaching opportunities at law school and eventually in the U.S. Navy during World War II. He followed his favorite teams well into his autumn years. The thrill of the game never grew dull.

Every Presidential Museum contains at least one collection of artifacts unique to the experiences of that president. Examples include saxophones for Bill Clinton and saddles for Ronald Reagan. The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum preserves a fascinating assortment of footballs. Some reflect Gerald R. Ford’s playing days, others his time as a coach. Some were sent by admirers, while others were left as memorials upon his passing. All tell a unique story of our only U.S. president who preferred to hear “The Victors” over “Hail to the Chief.”