The National Football League came of age in the postwar period, and perhaps no one had a a better view of this development than Upton Bell. His father, Bert Bell, was commissioner of the league from 1946 to 1959, and son Upton was the successful player personnel director of the Baltimore Colts when the team reached two of the first five Super Bowls. After that, at only 33, Upton became the general manager of the New England Patriots and has kept a close eye on the NFL during the past 40 years as a radio and TV talk show host. These experiences are related in the book he has co-authored with Ron Borges, who is himself a veteran NFL watcher and a columnist at the Boston Herald.
Here’s an excerpt from Present at the Creation:
“There has never been a relationship between a town and a team quite like the one between Baltimore and the Colts. I didn’t know that until I got there in the late summer of 1961, but it didn’t take long to understand the difference.
“There are certainly cities that love their teams, especially when they’re winning, but there’s a difference between a city and a town, and the latter is what Baltimore was when the Colts were in their glory days.
“Not only was it a town that was nothing like Philadelphia, it was a town with an inferiority complex … which made it even less like Philadelphia. Trapped along the Northeast corridor between Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington DC, Baltimore was like a little brother always looking for attention but seldom receiving it until the Colts began to dominate pro football.”