Upton Bell Interview – Learning From Don Shula and the Baltimore Colts

Upton Bell Interview – Part 2

Note – This is part 2 of a 3-part series, diving into Upton’s place in Baltimore Colts history.  If you did not listen to part 1, I highly suggest you listen to last week’s episode about how it was for Upton growing up with Bert Bell first.

This episode we fire up the DeLorean and head back to October 11, 1959, the day Bert Bell passed away in front of his 2 teams at Franklin Field.  We talked about this during the Bert Bell episode, and we left last week’s episode off with this untimely death, forcing Upton Bell to make a decision about his future.  In this episode, we find out what Upton did next, and how that decision ended up shaping the rest of his life.  The story is told through the experiences of Upton Bell.

Here you can find the dedicated Upton Bell page.

Upton is the son of the First Great Commissioner of the NFL – Bert Bell.  He joins us to share stories from his book: Present at the Creation – My Life in the NFL and the Rise of America’s Game.  Upton’s book walks you through a journey in the history of the NFL unlike anyone else can.

He had a first-hand glimpse of the beginning of the NFL when he was the son of Bert Bell, the first Great Commissioner.  Upton was at a crossroads when his father passed away and ended up working for the Baltimore Colts and the Great Don Shula.  He was the youngest GM in the NFL at the time when he took over for the then, Boston Patriots.  He later owned the Charlotte Hornets, a World Football League organization.  And as if that wasn’t enough of a diverse background, he worked his way into the media as a sportscaster.

Oh, by the way, he interviewed some of the greatest people in the nation at the time.  Some include George HW Bush, Bill Clinton, and Stephen Hawking.  This is the 10,000 Eagle Eye View of Upton’s life, and there’s no way I could do it justice, so let’s get down to the nitty-gritty.  So without further ado, I present to you, Upton Bell.  So, strap on your seat belt, and let’s get ready to take this baby up to 88mph.

Upton Bell Book – Present At The Creation

Note – As an affiliate, I earn a commission on qualifying purchases.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book.  There was never a dull moment, and I highly suggest you pick it up.  The interview is a 3-part series, but it would take triple that to cover everything in this book (maybe more).  It’s mostly a chronology of Upton’s life.  The book starts at the beginning, giving you an inside look into why Bert Bell was considered the First Great Commissioner.  Then it walks you through his days with the Baltimore Colts, on to the craziness of the disorganized “Boston” Patriots, up to his time as an owner in the WFL, and then as a broadcaster.  Of course, there’s plenty more in between.

This is the movie Upton talked about during this episode that gives you an idea of Baltimore Colts history and what the team meant to the city.  He said it gives you a good idea of what it was like back then.

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Upton Bell Website

Upton Bell Interview (Part 1) – Growing Up With Bert Bell




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Upton Bell is possibly a name you never heard of.  However, when you listen to the 3 parts of the interview I had with him, you will realize he was literally Present at the Creation of the NFL (as we know it today), which is the title of his book.  He is the son of Bert Bell, the First Great Commissioner of the NFL, but some things turned sideways there that led him to change the course of his career.

We discussed in the Bert Bell episode how he had an untimely death in 1959.  At this time, Upton had a decision to make.  We find him working his way into administrative positions with the Baltimore Colts and the “Boston” Patriots, later to be named the New England Patriots, by none other than Upton Bell.  He owned the Charlotte Hornets in the World Football League and then hung up his professional football hat to be a broadcaster.

Much later in life, Upton had a near-death experience when he crashed his vehicle in a pretty bad wreck.  He wrote a story for the Boston Magazine explaining his journey back titled Memoir – Upton Bell’s Road Back.  I suggest you take a look at it.  There are many life lessons and analogies that can help you through anything you’re going through.

You can find him on Twitter at @uptonbell

Upton Bell Interview Episodes

The World Football League The World Football League was a…

Upton Bell Interview (Part 3) – Owning a WFL Team and Broadcasting


Upton Bell Interview – Part 2 Note – This is…

Upton Bell Interview (Part 2) – Learning From Don Shula and the Baltimore Colts


Upton Bell Interview – Part 1 This episode we fire…

Upton Bell Interview (Part 1) – Growing Up With Bert Bell


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This book is basically a chronological overview of Upton’s life in the game of professional football.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book, and I believe it’s “MUST READ” information.  You can get a good grasp of the stories from the book in the interviews, but you don’t hear the whole thing.  It’s near impossible to cover everything in the book on an episode (or even 20) of The Football History Dude podcast.  I highly suggest you check this out, and please let Upton and myself know what you thought about the book / interviews.


How I Met Upton

Upton reached out to me after someone shared this Bert Bell posting over at Flurry Sports.  He called the phone number found on my Contact Page and left a voicemail letting me know he was thankful I  covered an episode on his father.  I can remember the conversation I had with Upton like it happened yesterday.  I called him on my way to the gym, and he answered the phone with just telling me how many times he’s been to Michigan for football games.  At first, it caught me off guard, but then I was able to start a conversation that would ultimately change the direction of my podcast.

I was so interested and excited that I pulled over into this hotel parking lot right next to the local Subway.  Upton proceeded to tell me so many stories about his life, told me he thinks podcasts are the way of the future, and then we ended it by him telling me to send him my address to get his book my way.  Flash forward, the book shows up to a different post office box, because the last few digits are barely off.  I waited forever for that book.  Finally, I got it, and I couldn’t put it down.  Then the real fun was about to happen.  I had the killer interview with Upton, and it was even better than I could have imagined.  Again, a HUGE thank you to Upton for helping me out.

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