Bert Bell learned many lessons from the wins and losses he experienced as a football player at Franklin Field. He used these lessons on a daily basis for many years even after his last game as a Quaker.
“Bert’s bitter experience down in the league cellar was what led to the NFL draft, in which the worst teams got to those the best players out of college. What Bert realized down there at the bottom was that unless the poorer teams survived, the league itself wouldn’t and the only way for the poorer teams to make it was the give them a change to equalize the talent.” – An excerpt from Upton Bell’s article titled “Any Given Sunday,” published in
During his tenure as NFL Commissioner from 1946-59, Bell raised his players’ salaries, increased game attendance by 100 percent, established far-sighted television policies and enforced strict anti-gambling codes. He had a profound impact upon professional football, transforming the NFL from a fledgling league into the premier organization it is today.
Bert Bell, at 65 years of age, died in the place that first gave him so much pleasure, Franklin Field. He was there watching a game between his two former teams, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 11, 1959. The famed legend of professional football was missed dearly by everyone involved at one point or another with the sport, and is remembered ever since by what he gave to the game every day of his life – his heart.
“The modern football icon is Vince Lombardi, the great Packers coach for whom winning wasn’t everything, it was the only thing. But Bert’s lessons were different, and to my mind, more fundamental, and more truly American. He was a tough man, a fighter, a competitor to his toes. But he knew that losing was as much a part of his life as winning; in the early days, his beloved Eagles regularly finished at the bottom. He had an innate feel for the underdog, and an understanding that for the enterprise to flourish, the weak had to be protected, and the field had to be level. Everyone had to have a shot.” –Upton Bell