"Present At the Creation - My Life in the NFL and the Rise of America's Game"

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.

 

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Read an excerpt from the book published in:

Memoir: Upton Bell's Road Back

It was a cold and windy day as I walked to Harvard Square to pick up my rental car. It was January 23, 2015. What did I expect, Red Sox spring-training weather? I was going to NECN to do an interview with Jim Braude on his show Broadside. The subject was Tom Brady and the beginning of a disease that has finally settled, known as Deflategate. It was the week before the Super Bowl between the Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. I had also brought my 1970 Super Bowl ring (I won it as the director of player personnel for the Baltimore Colts) to show the audience. When the show finished, I got in my car and headed home. While driving the short trip in 6 o’clock traffic, I thought about how the original plan—my longtime girlfriend, JoAnne O’Neill, was to drive me to the show and have dinner with me afterward—would have been much better, considering the traffic and the weather. But she had come down with the flu and couldn’t do it. Little did I know the role fate would play.

As I approached Route 2 off of 128, the traffic was fairly light, and I noticed the Channel 5 helicopter overhead. Whether my mind wandered or I hit a patch of ice or had a mini stroke, something happened that I still can’t explain. My car veered off Route 2, up an embankment, through a guardrail, flipped over, and landed upside down on top of another car. In the brief time my car was airborne, I had the feelings of flying and invincibility. I could hear the air. I was totally at ease and felt happier than ever before. Was it part of a near-death experience?

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