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On Any Given Sunday: A Life of Bert Bell Hardcover – November 28, 2009
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"Robert S. Lyons' flavorful biography captures the blustery and paternalistic Bell, portraying him as a man who worked relentlessly to keep the NFL alive and push it to thrive....[T]he book is worth reading. One has to appreciate the long string of anecdotes and colorful details Lyons has dug up. Who knew, for instance, that Bell would calm tempers at owners' meetings by taking out his false teeth and putting them in his water glass? More important, no book has detailed Bell's contributions to the NFL so thoroughly."
"I know the book well. It's a terrific book."
— NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, as heard on The Sal Paolantonio Show (ESPN)
Bell, who arguably saved the league from bankruptcy by conceiving the idea for the annual player draft, later made the historic decision to introduce “sudden death” overtime—a move that propelled professional football into the national consciousness. He coined the phrase “on any given sunday” and negotiated the league’s first national TV contract. Lyons also describes in fascinating detail Bell’s relationships with leading figures ranging from such Philadelphia icons as Walter Annenberg and John B. Kelly to national celebrities and U.S. Presidents. He also provides insight into Bell’s colorful personal life—including his hell-raising early years and his secret marriage to Frances Upton, a golden name in show business.
On Any Given Sunday is being published on the 50th anniversary of Bell’s death.
Top Customer Reviews
Not only is Lyons' biography meticulously researched, it is colorfully-written with dozens of anecdotes that describe the many faces and talents of a man, who founded and served as the first coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, and later co-owned the Pittsburgh Steelers before being elected Commissioner of the NFL in 1946.
Lyons carefully outlines in vivid detail how much Bert Bell did for professional football. He saved the league from bankruptcy by conceiving the concept for a player draft -- a great idea that paved the way for colleges preparing athletes to play in the NFL at no cost to the league. In addition to explaining the background behind some of Bell's other innovations like sudden death overtime, Lyons tells how Bell carefully developed the use of television, masterfully cultivated members of Congress when the federal government was trying desperately to nail the league for anti-trust violations, and aggressively protected the sport against unsavory characters.
We learn that it was Bert Bell who coined the phrase On Any Given Sunday. He was a well-to-do descendant of one of Pennsylvania's most influential families who quarterbacked the University of Pennsylvania to the Rose Bowl, then became a hero in World War I.Read more ›
The big problem all who ever covered or knew Bell was his lack of a filing system, any system to run a business as the NFL. It is fair to say that Bert Bell acted as a transitory figure from the league's origins to the ultra-slick machine that his successor Pete Rozelle developed from the time he took office at age 33 in 1960. Bell never was the league strongman during his time as the unsuccessful owner of money-starved Philadelphia Eagles franchise, nor even as the commissioner that led the league into the television age. That man, of course, was Chicago Bears founder, owner-coach, and league founder George Halas who carried the league on his back for the first 40 years of its existence. Bert Bell understood that and he understood that all major decisions must be cleared through Halas. That Halas, a Godfather-like figure, operated for the good of the league, not just the welfare of his Bears, is the single salient point Lyons missed.
In his narrative Lyons missed the obvious connection in the television era - Bert Bell's long, close, and loyal friendship with W.Read more ›
who wants to learn about the NFL, this is a good place to start.