Bert Bell

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As a coach:

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De Benneville "Bert" Bell (February 25, 1895 – October 11, 1959) was the co-founder of the Philadelphia Eagles, co-owner and coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers and commissioner of the National Football League from 1946 until his death.


Early life

Bell grew up in a prominent Philadelphia, Pennsylvania family, the son of John Cromwell Bell, Sr., Pennsylvania's attorney general. Once commenting on his son's plans for college, the elder Bell said, "Bert will go to Penn (the University of Pennsylvania) or he will go to hell." While there, Bell played quarterback for the Quakers' football team, a stretch that was interrupted by World War I service at the Mobile Hospital Unit in France.

After graduating, Bell served as backfield coach at his alma mater from 1920 to 1928, then held the same position for two years at Temple University in 1930 and 1931.

Philadelphia Eagles founder, owner, coach

In 1933, with three other former college teammates (including Lud Wray, first head coach), he became co-owner of the Eagles for $2,500.

Taking the approach of making the overall league stronger, Bell was credited with establishing the NFL draft in 1935. He served as Eagles head coach from 1936 to 1940. By 1937, the Eagles had lost $90,000 and were put up for public auction. Bell became sole owner with a winning bid of $4,500, but after continuing financial struggles, he became co-owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers with his friend Art Rooney in a bizarre transaction in which Rooney sold the Steelers to Philadelphia businessman Alex Thompson, who then traded franchises with Bell. By 1943, a wartime manpower shortage led the Steelers and Eagles to temporarily merge into the "Steagles". The following year, the Steelers merged with the Chicago Cardinals.

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