On Any Given Sunday: A Life of Bert Bell

Front Cover
Temple University Press, 2009 - Biography & Autobiography - 352 pages
Bert Bell, a native of Philadelphia, has been called the most powerful executive figure in the history of professional football. He was responsible for helping to transform the game from a circus sideshow into what has become the most popular spectator sport in America. In On Any Given Sunday, the first biography of this important sports figure, historian Robert Lyons recounts the remarkable story of how de Benneville “Bert” Bell rejected the gentility of a high society lifestyle in favor of the tougher gridiron, and rose to become the founder of the Philadelphia Eagles and Commissioner of the National Football League.

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.

What people are saying - Write a review

On Any Given Sunday: A Life of Bert Bell

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Bell (1895-1959), founder of the Philadelphia Eagles and NFL commissioner after World War II, was a monumental figure in pro football history, taking the sport from near-minor league status to its ... Read full review

Other editions - View all

About the author (2009)

For more than 35 years, Robert S. Lyons has covered professional and college sports for the Associated Press and has contributed articles to numerous national publications. He is the author of Palestra Pandemonium: A History of the Big Five, and co-author (with Ray Didinger) of The Eagles Encyclopedia (both Temple). He is the former director of the La Salle University News Bureau, editor of the university's alumni magazine, and an instructor in the school's Communications Department.

Bibliographic information