Present at the Creation


Present at the Creation

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

Upton Bell with Ron Borges

416 pages
37 photographs, 1 illustration


November 2017


$24.95 Add to Cart

September 2019


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2017


$19.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

November 2017


$19.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

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.


Author Bio

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.


"A highly enjoyable book that should be on every football fan's reading list."—John Maxymuk, Library Journal starred review

"This book is certain to be enjoyed by fans of all stripes."—Guy Who Reviews Sports Books

"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."—Andrew Andrews, 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."—Richard C. Crepeau, ARETE

“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

“Upton Bell did not grow up like you and me. Your father was not the NFL commissioner who created the draft model now followed by all professional sports. Your mother was not a Broadway star. His parents were each of those things. You were not a thirty-three-year-old general manager of a pro football team, or a radio and TV host. I can say with certainty you have not met the people he’s met or had the experiences he’s had. And, no offense, I doubt you are as funny or insightful as Upton Bell is on a variety of topics. This is an extraordinary life story of a unique individual. The epilogue alone is worth the price of the book.”—Bob Ryan, Boston Globe sportswriter, author, frequent ESPN panelist, and recipient of the Curt Gowdy Media Award from the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame

“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

“Upton was the best, and we always worked well as a team. He and Carroll Rosenbloom were the best thing that ever happened to the Colts in the 1960s, and he covers it all here.”—Lenny Moore, Baltimore Colts running back (1956–1967) and Pro Football Hall of Fame member

Table of Contents

1. On Any Given Sunday
2. A Long Ride to Baltimore
3. Welcome to the Colts
4. The Great Ticket Heist Was My Kickoff in Baltimore
5. A Scout’s Life Is for Kit Carson but Not for Everybody
6. The Making of an NFL Scout
7. Spy vs. Spy Settles NFL-AFL War
8. The South Is Burning!
9. Running My Own Show in Baltimore
10. Worst Loss in the History of Losses
11. Some Things Can’t Be Fixed
12. Why Did You Ever Come Here?
13. Everybody’s Got to Serve Somebody
14. A New League, a Second Chance
15. No More Fish in the Sea
16. Scouting for QBs, the Most Important Position in Sports
17. Only One Moses Wore a Whistle
18. Out of the Frying Pan, Into the Fire

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