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Present at the Creation

My Life in the NFL and the Rise of America's Game

Upton Bell

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 11/2017
Pages: 400
Subject: Sports and Recreation
eBook ISBN: 9781496204592


To understand how the NFL became the sports phenomenon it is today, you can study its history or you can live its history as an active participant. Upton Bell grew up at the knee of the NFL's first great commissioner, his father, the legendary Bert Bell, who not only saved the game from financial ruin after World War II but was one of its greatest innovators. Coining the phrase "On any given Sunday," Bert invented the pro football draft and proposed sudden death rules.Present at the Creation details Bell's firsthand experiences, which started as he watched his father draw up the league schedule each year at the kitchen table using dominoes. There he learned the importance of parity, which is a hallmark of the league's success, and also how to create it. Over the past fifty-three years, Bell has been an owner, a general manager, a personnel executive, a scouting director for two Super Bowl teams, a television commentator and analyst, and a talk-radio host. He has seen the NFL from the inside and has experienced many of the most important moments in NFL history. Bell was player personnel director for the Baltimore Colts when the team played in three championship games and appeared in two Super Bowls (1968 and 1970). At thirty-three, he became the youngest general manager in NFL history when he joined the Patriots in that role in 1971. He left the NFL in 1974 to compete against it, joining the upstart World Football League as owner of the Charlotte Hornets, which lasted just two years. In 1976 Bell began his forty‑year career as a radio and TV talk-show host, yet he remains a football guy who was in the middle of the game's most significant moments and knows that half the story has never been told, until now.Watch a book trailer.   Purchase the audio edition.


Upton Bell first joined the Baltimore Colts as a training camp attendant in 1960 and worked his way up to personnel director in 1966. During his tenure the Colts were in three NFL championship games and two Super Bowls, winning Super Bowl V after the completion of the AFL-NFL merger. In 1971 he was hired as the general manager of the New England Patriots (then known as the Boston Patriots), making him at age thirty-three the youngest general manager in the NFL. After leaving pro football Bell began a long broadcasting career in Boston, where he has served as both host and commentator and covered the country's top newsmakers.He is a three-time AP talk radio award winner.Ron Borges has covered the NFL since 1975. He serves on the Pro Football Hall of Fame election committee and the senior selection committee.  


"This is a fascinating behind-the-scenes story of a young man who was beside his father, NFL commissioner Bert Bell, through all the major events as pro football became America's No. 1 sport; he then became the chief scout of the Baltimore Colts' championship teams and then the general manager of the New England Patriots. A must-read for any fan of pro football."—Ernie Accorsi, former general manager of the New York Giants

"An extremely informative, definitive work by a dynamic personality who witnessed firsthand the development of the NFL, from his father's contributions to his own personal achievements that helped cement the foundation of what has today become the most popular sport in the United States."—Ron Wolf, former general manager of the Green Bay Packers and Pro Football Hall of Fame member  

"It didn't start with Joe Namath or Joe Montana or Tom Brady leading an impossible comeback in Super Bowl LI in Houston. This is the history of professional football in America. If you ever played football, played fantasy football, or just tossed a few bucks in an office pool, this is the book for you. Upton Bell lived it and Ron Borges covered it. A stronger combo than Belichick and Brady."—Dan Shaughnessy, Boston Globe columnist and New York Times bestselling author