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Present at the CreationPresent at the Creation

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

Upton Bell

Narrated by James Robert Killavey

Available from Audible

Book published by University of Nebraska Press

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.

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.


“A highly enjoyable book that should be on every football fan's reading list.”

Library Journal

“Upton Bell, son of Philadelphia Eagles founder Bert Bell, the game’s greatest innovator who saved the NFL from ruin after World War II, reminded me once again that, when you think you know just about everything that’s important, you miss quite a few critical things.... Throughout the book, there are so many memories, anecdotes, recollections and asides that you wonder if he had a big, thick journal with names and thoughts and belief systems that he wrote down his entire time in football. I don't know how he remembers it all, but it's here: the personalities that shaped the league that literally is America's No. 1 sport.”

True Review

“Upton Bell's memoir of his NFL days is a valuable and entertaining addition to the literature available on the NFL during its formative years.”


“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

All titles are published by:
University Press Audiobooks
an imprint of Redwood Audiobooks

University Press Audiobooks