Upton Bell (born 1937) is a former National Football League executive, currently a talk show host and commentator. He is the son of former National Football League commissioner Bert Bell and Broadway actress Frances Upton.
Upton Bell started his football career by working at the Baltimore Colts' training camp, moved to the ticket office and then in 1964 transitioned to the Colts' scouting department where he then became personnel director in 1966. His responsibilities included scouting and negotiating contracts with and signing of all college recruits. He worked with Weeb Eubank and Don Shula. During Upton's tenure, the Colts were in two NFL Championship games and two Super Bowl games, winning Super Bowl V in 1971 under new head coach Don McCafferty. Seventeen of the 40-man roster on that winning team were players drafted during Upton's tenure as personnel director. Bell held the personnel director's job until he was hired to become the general manager of the New England Patriots (then known as the Boston Patriots) in 1971.
At 33, Bell was the NFL's youngest general manager. One of Bell's first moves was recommending to the Patriots' board of directors that they change the name from Bay State Patriots to The New England Patriots. Later Bell hired Bucko Kilroy and put together the Patriots' first scouting department. For the scouting department Bell hired Tom Boisture, Dick Steinberg, Mike Hickey and Bob Terpening, all of whom went on to head scouting positions in the NFL. Bell also hired as Assistant GM Peter Hadhazy who later became GM of the Cleveland Browns. Under Bell' leadership, the Patriots improved from 2–12 to 6–8. Despite the improvement, Bell wanted to fire Head Coach John Mazur and hire a coach of his own choosing. The team's board of directors agreed that if the Patriots lost to the Baltimore Colts, Mazur would be fired. Patriots quarterback Jim Plunkett landed an 88-yard pass to Randy Vataha for a 21–17 Patriots win. The Patriots finished the following season with a 3–11 record and Bell was fired on December 5.
Bell returned to professional football in 1974 with the purchase of the New York Stars in the World Football League. Bell relocated the team to Charlotte, North Carolina, where the team was renamed the Charlotte Hornets. This venture was short-lived due to the folding of the World Football League in 1975. One of Bell's co-owners was Arnold Palmer. After the closure of the WFL, many of Bell's players along with all his coaches were signed into the NFL. They included Lindy Infante who became the Packers' head coach, Tom Moore of the Indianapolis Colts and Bob Gibson of the New York Giants. Bell also recommended Charlotte to the NFL as a franchise city.
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Starting in 1976, Bell began his long media career by making guest appearances on programs such as John Sterling’s show on WMCA in New York. In 1977, Bell was the host of the Pats Post Game Show on WBZ. In 1978, he became co-host of WBZ’s Calling All Sports with newcomer Bob Lobel. Other shows hosted by Bell included Sports Nightly (1979–1980), Sports Line on WEEI (1980-1984), Sports Beat on WSBK-TV (1989-1996) with Joe Fitzgerald, Bob Ryan and Bob Lobel, Will and Upton Commentary with Boston Globe Columnist Will McDonough on WNEV Channel 7 (1984-1988) and New England Sports Final (1989–2007).
During the 1989 and 1990 NFL seasons, Bell served as an interviewer for WBZ-TV during their Patriots pre-game show and newscasts. Those people Bell interviewed for WBZ both on the pre-game show and evening news included President George H. W. Bush, Mike Tyson, Joe Montana, Pete Rozelle, Bill Parcells, Phil Simms, Bo Schembeckler, Howard Cosell, Don Shula, Deion Sanders, John Hannah, Jim Kelly, Chuck Noll, Don King, Patrick Ewing and Stephen King.
Bell has also been a guest commentator on NECN and WBZ-TV’s Sports Final.
Bell’s first color commentary experience came at WSMW where he called college football with Bob Fouracre from 1978 tp 1982. In 1983, Bell served as the color commentator for the Boston Breakers professional football team on WNEV and ESPN and was the studio host for Sports Channel New England. He was the color commentator for the Boston College Eagles football radio broadcasts with play-by-play announcers Dan Davis in 1985 and Bob Lobel in 1986. Bell was also a fill in-color commentator for Sports Channel New England’s Boston Celtics games as well as host of their nightly talk show.
Nationally, Bell worked on PBS Ivy League football games alongside play-by-play announcer Dick Galiette and sideline reporter Sean McDonough in 1984. Bell also was co-host of the first national television show on the NFL Draft on PBS in 1977.
Bell transitioned from sports talk on radio to general talk in 1988. He succeeded Dave Maynard on WBZ radio in 1990. Since 1988, Bell hosted shows on WHDH (1988-1989), WTAG(1992-1998), WRPT/WMEX (1998-2003). He has interviewed George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Tip O'Neill, Stephen Hawking, Henry Kissinger, Ted Kennedy, Geraldine Ferraro, Norman Mailer, Regis Philbin, Frank McCourt, Jay Leno, Dr. Joyce Brothers, Jackie Mason, Sam Donaldson, Stephen King, Johnnie Cochran and Alan Dershowitz. For three consecutive years, the Upton Bell Show was recognized by The Associated Press for Outstanding Talk Show in New England.
In November 2010, Bell and Bob Lobel reunited briefly with a Sunday morning program on WXKS 1200 Radio in suburban Boston.