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Bert Bell

Bert Bell
  • Hall of Fame 1963

Bell, a former quarterback at the University of Pennsylvania, loved his home state so much, being a part of both NFL teams in Pennsylvania had to have been a dream come true for him.

Bell was the co-founder and co-owner of the Philadelphia Eagles from 1933-40. During that time he worked with other NFL owners to establish the NFL Draft to create competitive balance.

Bell sold the Eagles, and purchased a share of the Pittsburgh Steelers during World War II, and remained in his role from 1940-45. During that time he was outspoken and instrumental in the league still operating during war time.

His vision for the NFL was intriguing and profound and it was no wonder he was elected NFL Commissioner in 1946, selling his ownership in the Steelers at that point.

"Bert Bell devoted his life to pro football," said Steve Sabol, late President of NFL Films. "As the NFL's first great commissioner, he shaped his time and the times to come. The rest walk in his footsteps."

Bell was behind the league's television and anti-gambling policies, and oversaw the merger of the NFL and AFL in 1949.

"Before Bert Bell, the NFL operated out of a closet, almost," said former Philadelphia Eagles Coach Dick Vermeil. "Most of what you associate with pro football today began with Bert Bell."

His love and passion for football, the NFL and the teams he once owned was on display all the way until his passing. Bell suffered a heart attack while watching the Steelers play the Eagles at Franklin Field on Oct. 11, 1959, and passed away later that day.