A pigskin that you can play a real game with, but that's small enough to hide in a drawer if the boss is on the prowl
The Want: A ball to keep in the desk drawer for that after-work game of touch or to toss around when the boss isn't looking. It can't look like a child's toy but must be small enough that an errant throw won't put the copier out of commission.
The Get: Channeling Knute Rockne, the Leather Head Rough Rider ($110 at leatherheadsports.com) is handmade from selected hides—each ball is slightly different—with leather that, over time, develops a nice patina and supple feel. About the size of a youth league ball, it'll grant you the illusion of having an arm like a young Brett Favre.
FOR THE AERON CHAIR QUARTERBACK
Four other balls you might want to keep around the office this season:
The Duke ($99.99 from paragonsports.com)—named after the late New York Giants owner Wellington "Duke" Mara—is a commemorative edition of the official Wilson ball used in NFL games. The deep-pebbled leather is perfectly grippable.
The Medicine Ball
A little extra heft (about 6 oz. more than a typical ball) makes the handmade, genuine chrome-tanned Lineaus Football Medicine Ball ($275 at lineausathletic.com) great for keeping your arm in shape during the off-season. Or resting your elbow on at work.
The Game Ball
Rawlings' ST5 Pro Preferred youth ball ($69.99 at rawlingsgear.com) has a durable, sticky, and water-repellent skin that's perfect for when the casual office toss escalates into an after-work parking lot grudge match.
Its flashy pleather isn't for every office, but the cushioned Franklin Sports Junior Air Tech Laser Football ($14.99 at paragonsports.com) can be hurled at full speed without harming any hardware or, for that matter, colleagues.