De Benneville "Bert" Bell (February 25, 1895 – October 11, 1959) was the National Football League (NFL) commissioner from 1945 until his death in 1959. As commissioner, he introduced competitive parity into the NFL to improve the league's commercial viability and promote its popularity, and he helped make the NFL the most financially sound sports enterprise and preeminent sports attraction in the United States (US). He was posthumously inducted into the charter class of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Bell played football at the University of Pennsylvania, where as quarterback, he led his team to an appearance in the 1917 Rose Bowl. After being drafted into the US Army during World War I, he returned to complete his collegiate career at Penn and went on to become an assistant football coach with the Quakers in the 1920s. During the Great Depression, he was an assistant coach for the Temple Owls and a co-founder and co-owner of the Philadelphia Eagles.
With the Eagles, Bell led the way in cooperating with the other NFL owners to establish the National Football League Draft in order to afford the weakest teams the first opportunity to sign the best available players. He subsequently became sole proprietor of the Eagles, but the franchise suffered financially. Eventually, he sold the team and bought a share in the Pittsburgh Steelers. During World War II, Bell astutely argued against the league suspending operations until the war's conclusion.
After the war, he was elected NFL commissioner and sold his ownership in the Steelers. As commissioner, he implemented a proactive anti-gambling policy, negotiated a merger with the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), and unilaterally crafted the entire league schedule with an emphasis on enhancing the dramatic effect of late-season matches. During the Golden Age of Television, he tailored the game's rules to strengthen its appeal to mass media and enforced a policy of blacking out local broadcasts of home contests to safeguard ticket receipts. Amid criticism from franchise owners and under pressure from Congress, he unilaterally recognized the NFLPA and facilitated in the development of the first pension plan for the players. He survived to oversee the "Greatest Game Ever Played" and to envision what the league would become in the future.