A Look Back At The NFL’s Bert Bell Benefit Bowl

For ten seasons, from 1960 through 1969, the Bert Bell Benefit Bowl was played the weekend after the NFL Championship Game and featured the second place teams from the NFL’s Eastern and Western conferences. Each of the games was played in the Orange Bowl in Miami on the weekend directly following the Championship Game and the weekend right before the Pro Bowl.

The game was named for Bert Bell who was the co-founder and co-owner of the Philadelphia Eagles and was one of the driving forces behind such things as the NFL Draft. He would also later be a part owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers before serving as the NFL commissioner from 1946 to 1959 when he passed away while attending an NFL game that featured the two teams he was once a member of ownership of playing against each other, the Eagles and the Steelers.

The Detroit Lions won the first Bert Bell Benefit Bowl by defeating the Cleveland Browns 17-16. The Lions would in fact win the first three of these contests which would be more than any other team ever would. The Browns would on the other hand go on to lose that first game as well as two others (1963 and 1967) giving them the record for most losses of the Bert Bell Benefit Bowl.

As the AFL and NFL merged in 1970, the Bert Bell Benefit Bowl which had also been known as the Playoff Bowl went by the wayside and was not heard from again.

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