The Burro of Narberth

Bert Bell

"I’ve been seeing these “Who was Bert Bell?” signs all over town. Who was Bert Bell?! Heck, he darn near invented the National Football League is all. He came this close to moving the league headquarters to his house in Narberth. (Had to settle for Lower Merion after Missus-Commish put her foot down.)

When he ran the NFL, pro football was trench warfare, all bruises, mud, and blood. Back then, the home team wore green uniforms (now don’t get me started on that!). Back then quarterbacks didn’t need little walkie-talkies in their hats to know which play to call.

Speaking of hats, Bert had his favorite hat, a battered old grey fedora. It was a disgrace and one time his cronies at the Breakfast Club decided to do something about it. So Spike Maguire went over to Wanamakers and bought a brand new hat, and the next Tuesday morning at the Tavern, they kept it hidden when Bert walked in.

Then Jiggs Torchiana jumps up and grabs the old hat off Bert’s head throws it on the floor and the whole lot of them start jumping and stomping on it, Bert trying to save his hat. When they had totally destroyed it, they presented him with the new one. Bert was so mad he threatened to revoke their season passes to the Eagles. He was only kiddin’.

They’re all gone now. Bert and Spike died a month apart back in ‘59. They’re buried right next to each other down at the Calvery cemetary. Connie Mack’s son, Roy, is there too. If I know those three, they’ve talked a lot of sports these 38 years. Time sure moves on, don’t it.”

November 19, 1997

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