WEEI>On Demand>>Former Patriots GM Upton Bell joins Butch Stearns to talk draft and all things NFL

Former Patriots GM Upton Bell joins Butch Stearns to talk draft and all things NFL

Apr 28, 2013|

Upton talks about different draft strategies and how every general manager has a blind spot when it comes to certain positions. He also breaks down how the game has changed on defense which has increased the value of capable cornerbacks.

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Transcript - Not for consumer use. Robot overlords only. Will not be accurate.

Welcome -- sports Sunday -- Sunday night here on WEE. A spot here on Sunday nights in Boston that has been occupied by. Some of the legendary sports talk show hosts. In this city in the country years and years and years ago and up until now. Let's talk some football our next guest is quite honestly wanted to postage and people I've ever met and known at the privileged. He's one of the brightest people I know it means they should get Smart different. But our next guest. Grew up around football and I literally mean his dad was a former commissioner. Of the NFL before. Bert bell became the commissioner in the NFL. He's credited -- basically instituting the NFL draft. Our guest start with a Baltimore colts years ago as he dressing room attendant. And work his way up to shop and for the groceries. For a team that played for three championships during his tenure. Two Super Bowls and one NFL championship. -- Upton belies the former general manager of the New England Patriots. -- them with a knowing the pages of the Boston patriots when you with the GM. Well I will tell you what story and good evening Q -- in your audience. I've been listening more liberal and continue to blow another game but. That's that's for another night but won my first case when I was first hired -- came here. Billy I could Billy what's the name of the team now. If you're going to Blacksburg -- debased state patriot place had you know what the short of the based state patriots is. It's the yes. -- -- Solomon RBS for what people think. Typically the writers and and the people in the media of this team right now. I should let me recommend this in the course of those states -- board of directors. For what I don't know. But I said. If we're gonna draw anybody down the Foxboro and -- seven million dollar stadium with no toilet flushing. I think we would be a whole lot better off. Naming them to New England Patriots that you're -- yup that's right down I didn't know that in fact the Dan -- called me year ago. He's so like traced. Back the history. And he said are you the one that change the name and I said yes and he -- And -- wrote a column on why is it's still Boston. And I I told him why his things were desperate. Wow I did not in all the history the patriots and and Bob. How to -- -- -- then he'll go Berger writes the total. Patriots history does such a great job chronicling everything -- Bissell came up with a pat patriot north I did not know I must have missed that can't comment on nor the U coined the New England Patriot Act. Absolutely and it's funny because. In those they -- and have a lot to picket the board of directors like does that help with the board of directors I said you you got to. -- we are midway between Providence and Boston. Help the middle of nowhere in the race track that has -- marks all over and I said let's see. If we can get people from all five or six state ironically. Before we even started the pre season we went from 171000. Season tickets to 53 now. And that was coming off a team that has the worst I think was the worst record in the days old AFL. The year before but that that was. Something -- an alliance system the public should you know what -- -- People have been making full of this thing for so long if you were well. Most people will not remember there listening today. They were really a joke about while I was at the cult like oh my gosh I never want to work for the patriots and a year later I -- Well up the let's there's so much -- ask you about and especially the history of the draft -- so many things talk about. Let's start with the hearing now and I know how foolish this question is -- we think about the draft you and I talked the other day about despite. What what what are you like about what the patriots did this weekend if anything. Well the the the first thing and I'd like. Welcome back -- the history later on of the craft and Weis it's still a crapshoot with everything they have. At their Beck and call today what I do like is there wasn't much value in the first -- I hate the word but I -- this -- And in past years I looked at Belichick's record and it's been terrible in the second and third round practically with defensive backs and receivers. But there wasn't anybody they were looking at one defensive player and he was drafted earlier by Denver. And so. What he looked at -- he had no second round choices and he really basically -- to see what he could get the second or third round the people he drafted. If it and that's a big if -- If those people particularly the first receiver from Marshall. If he is successful Europe you're looking at somebody. Who's not our great -- but can go deep enough is strong enough can come down of football. And do some of the things that they have not been able to do the -- is a big if the other two a defensive backs that they got from markers. Woolsey. And I know Greg Bedard broken all down today but we will see if they're able to do that. Well as a guy who -- for the grocery -- is Bill Parcells made that statement so famous as a guy who did debt for a long time and NFL's a guy who grew up around football. What was what in your opinion is bill -- what signifies. Bill Belichick's draft philosophy from what. Signified yours like what with a characteristics that he looks for your opinion and what did you look for in your group of people that -- the groceries. Well I think I think it Belichick case that basically. I think he came up kind of vote of the school. That I -- certain positions I need to fill but I'm not going to feel warm for the sake of killing them. That if it comes up and and that was in some ways my philosophy take take. Eight now you're a lousy team and near the Cleveland Browns and you really need. Are different all different positions that you just have nobody. There then Oreo that chip. The trade away the best defensive player in football. Then you have to go for certain certainty. But if -- the patriots who have dominated for the last thirteen years a really lousy division. To me what he has done is really combined. Looking for certain positions have really taken the best athlete possible. I know that's sales phony I know everybody says that the next person on the board. But but really if your team is pretty well bill. You're better off taking a player. That you know can play or -- good enough athlete to play so I think Belichick somewhere. In between -- He will never admit. Because you see the disasters that they've had as wide receiver. And as and it seemed like a blind spot and by the way everybody who -- has a -- book. Our -- -- you know that the hardest and I'm going back to the early days in the fifty. All the way through the years like draft of the colts and limit the patriot. Through to today the hardest position to find is not the quarterback it is -- cornerback. Whatever iteration of it and the simple reason is that. You're out -- and island by yourself. No matter what the defense you play what the players know where the plane Manley players matching so -- place to be 4380. You -- how. You're required. To cover somebody most of the time. Are individually. You you are no longer able to what they used to do when I was involved in it. You could block or run a guy all the way down the field you could beat the hell lot of them look like -- done. You could name him who could do everything you want. Today. The thing that's mandated. By I don't like by the mandated. By all the hierarchy of the NFL. This is a TV game this is -- video okay. This is what we wanna draw all the people that play it through social media we want pit bull. So therefore we want long passers. We want receivers making spectacular catches. Don't touch the quarterback so your personal life and somebody so now. It can't open -- them. You can't beat them up at the -- or five yards at the line of scrimmage so you better be one of the world's great cover guy so that's why I said. All -- my money. If it's like Seattle I have too hot cover guys. That will just put you in the position I'm in every game. I thought you played all of a pass rush that's great if I don't have mobile linebackers. And I've got two quarters as we saw what Seattle had a pretty good quarterbacks I'm going to be an -- regained. Well we saw that that's when football became real in New England went. -- you drafted Jim wanted to start but then after that when my canes came on the scene and then John Hannah I mean those were. Three players they've changed there were many others are now. What don't forget this. What -- -- Claiborne and I would contrasting them that the guy that I brought him buckle -- to run the -- was doing all drafting that I had already been fired. -- -- -- The philosophy wasn't buckle like talked for a long time because before I -- them. He helped I brought him over from Dallas I want to make sure if what he did what he and I -- the saying. Let's think about this one may have handled they also had a all pro on the other -- right -- right right they also had one of the best -- of the time -- far right. So. The thirteen based upon. After after a point that left traded Hogan was him and they had that good office. Sick of that defense. Steve Nelson. Was one of the best in the business. Are you had to shut down corners you have more of the best safeties in the business. Everybody thinks he's -- today. That you will not -- And I've heard it you know all overeat I haven't heard Dennis and Callahan all of them say Brady Brady Brady and they are absolutely right about him here. Belichick and Kraft would be someplace else. Won the big gains -- Every big game that the patriots have played including the two Super Bowl -- law. And and the game that they lost last year. When the defense. Was right for the team to beat them that's why they -- Me ask you this question up and fight and if I asked Bill Belichick has this question the question is if there's one guy you remember drafting. That you know would be chiseled on the gravestone so to speak and one guy chiseled for the wrong reasons who would those two -- and I think bella check. Has a lot of history I mean he could look at on the good side guys like Dan -- open and assigned to simulate Tom Brady. Is the one whether he's credited fully -- that Dick -- by -- to remind supposedly was the guy really was a champion Foreman it was a 190 ninth. Pick in the draft and he's got one of the greatest players in his NFL. On the other side. You know we said Darius Butler and Patrick Chung like you said defensive backs that were high draft picks that didn't make it but. Probably have to be Chad Jackson. As you really targeted that guy and that -- is not even in the league anymore if I ask you that same question if there's two guys you remember drafting for the right the wrong reasons are their two. Well that there are a lot for the right reasons but I think the one guy and I'm so proud itself is now on the whole thing. And one -- looked at them at the University of Miami they called mad -- he was six foot seven he weighed a 195 pounds. And he played a standout defense event. I remember coming back and Hendricks -- Ted Hendricks and never coming back and telling shall I so I -- so one of the great football players have ever seen. And he said who they said they called the Mets or -- and -- run likely. Our of that year. Shula and his coaches were at the senior people we have lost in the championship game. Or that one of the semifinals and and they want to -- says the Senior Bowl. And I said the -- You look at this guy I know you're gonna laugh at me what this guy for his size is one of the strongest players of oversee. Never lifted away. And and did quite a lot of drinking probably -- People always remember him with the raiders of course but not but but I play events. Mean and the other guy should have been should have been and should be at the whole thing. But two linebackers that I drafted 11 to the whole thing Ted Hendricks is the only -- Mike Curtis who this year or next year will be on the old timers. Our committee. That's what the whole thing but Hendrix. Was. That there were three linebackers. But I will play is that the where the greatest I've ever seen. Lawrence Taylor. Ted Hendricks. And the course. Today fifty years from now -- -- years from now Dick Butkus there was nobody better nobody. Who's the one guy that he drafted that he's still today camp believes. Didn't make it in the NF Fowler didn't become a -- one guy you were certain it was going to be at least the player a may be a star and just never did. He became a movie star and I had a long argument with a -- sure about them Bubba Smith. Kill Bubba kill six -- seven and 95 actually a lot of people today think. What was when I started out in the sixties. That everybody was 510 and 130 pounds there -- a lot of big players that. Not 300 pounds but what bigger than you think -- war. And of course today -- there -- hundred pounds bigger I'm not sure how much better but. We got the first choice in the draft of 1966. How by making a deal with the world as we get the number one choice. And that year were ten or twelve of the best players have ever seen of their time. At it and it at Notre Dame and at Michigan State. And I actually went to the same distance and a tie game when one for the gipper. And I have to after the game -- this season was over shall says. I wanna go down the Michigan State and be published list. I'd like to look at it -- -- -- the place up there for number one draft choices on that team at all for the goal in the first round exit. No way chart I'm good -- -- Bubba Bubba Smith. A guy that named George Webster who I wanted to direct. Call Steelers right you know little Webster went to a Houston and was all pro until he -- -- me and it's too bad he would have -- -- -- framework. But Jones who was drafted -- the first round -- in the Minnesota Vikings and gene Washington also drafted. By the vikings when they treated for an apartment and from the giants back two or when they traded parking into the giants for we're number one. So. I should be sure we went down and -- the ball. And and you couldn't work about that like he could today elected to look. I think public got probably as much abilities anybody guessing but he should they be -- He's a con man he would he will never give you what you see on film. Every timeout. I sure that the best players in the in the country's George -- so we went back and forth madame and he came to the draft and of course he's the head coach. And the little mean my second or third years personnel director and I wish -- barely 2627. Years old oasis you know what. Secure gamble your choice. We did take. He did play very well. And I always traditional relational laughter that from time to time he was a better movie actor when he was a player government police like six. Million would have been one of the all time -- A couple of quick updates for you up -- -- talking -- -- former general manager of the patriots. The Bruins have to hide it up Dennis Seidenberg with the goals so instituted two in the third period now and the Los Angeles Lakers about to get eliminated. By the San Antonio Spurs. Know -- hit -- four games to nothing there will be swept. By the spurs. Well let me just finish which -- -- -- yeah because he was a key person he has three really good years he could have been greater. But here's one of the reasons that we lost the most historic super -- Ever -- was from 1968 -- we are seventeen point favorites to beat the jets. And I went back and look at film many times afterwards. And that kept were the only team learns the best way to do to play against -- Don't run away from them and Adam and how to let his compliment his knees when you could do that that's kind every time. And Matt snell had the day of of his life. Name that's hardly to a passel a lot of people get -- credit but they missed it and have a great -- Mets know get him is that what they did is they ran at Bubba. And really at some -- -- the cost of the game so that. Interest and so lets you down a little bit you're dead was the commissioner of the NFL from. What ears he woody would act. He was actually 46 to 59 but what a lot of people and and a course. Less people today studies history of every sport. Was baseball basketball or hockey I'm a great believer in looking. As we know George assess the analysts -- if you don't know what's going on the past. To use my turn to get screwed in the future. But he found with the Philadelphia Eagles with 3200 dollars and barred from my mother. Who was as -- felt folly storage handle money at the time his -- -- the more offers from the inheritance and she -- -- the money. He -- the Frankfurt yellow jackets out of bankruptcy. And renamed them after the NRA Eagles Philadelphia Eagles. And during that period of time them and white today use C. The widespread now not only football but there were no direction in any sport to Bart settled was the one that came up for the in 1933. Who just this reason for all the players everybody's time whatever you want. And and in 1933. He looked at situations that I might never gonna get any better. That bears the giants and the Redskins. Had all the money -- triangle what top players. Are the bears cashing carry piled had a great red grange they actually. Went from town to town and that -- 5060000. People in new York at the polo grounds and in Chicago. -- with the great red grange. But the people at the money -- affairs. The New York football giants and and by -- I remember one time and the stories very famous story of your member of the Olympics are also when you're having. But won the Olympics yeah. Well this guy who owned at that time in the NFL looking -- Brooklyn Dodgers. Actually. What a football team in the NFL as well as the Brooklyn Dodgers baseball -- And they were due to play in Philadelphia and then those states like file -- -- at what was JFK stadium which was -- a thousand. Policy in those states play the army navy game there any cold he called the owner and he said -- on the ticket soul. Nobody's interest sitting your team and pure hell nobody can pursue my team right now we're in last place. -- said I don't ordinarily say in most Asian could call -- off. Yeah. It as as these kids. He says -- I'm dating this. Olympics start Sonja Henne and I need to impress yourself. Tough you know a lot you're playing. He died down from New York with the -- most Sonya Henning and it was. The least amount of people ever to attend an NFL game. No page. Nations. And fifty people on the press wow. Eating Burke felt hot -- So. When you when he was commissioner you're what seven or eight years old. On -- or not I I had actually. -- when he when he became commissioner you you were like. Know what what he became a commissioner in 1946 I was nine years old and and actually buy that I have already been the -- for training camps. And and also at at that time and and by the way anybody it's really appreciate what you should. I want you become the book party couple years ago -- felt coined the phrase on any given Sunday. The book of his flight story's been out for three years and it by the -- sold all over the world. And that tells the story. I'll I'll basically well I was growing up with the kids his father gave my house on the main -- and I believe me if you think people in Boston. Or -- -- fortunate that he tried the main line at Pennsylvania. We've lived with 33 football players in the same house. I would climb over bodies when I was a kid then and I have a check here. For 45 dollars paid to a guy -- the -- -- was just starting offensive center every week somebody had to -- one of the kids. And my baby sitter was full -- -- got five bucks to babysit excel. I live in the same house with 33 football players I went I went to the training camps which could be right down the street could be in the sand or whatever it is so -- Saw the ball from four of them killed today. And -- in 33 like while they saw no way. So he came up with the idea. That the only way he wants to the only originally meaning any should look. Forget how bad my team forget how bad -- when he Steelers -- If we do not find a way for all looking. An equal chance. This league is going under. And -- After a year he convince them by getting Georgetown lost to a Korea and the palace and remember unlike today. These guys are all out for themselves so I knew that that he you know if if you didn't stick together and you were doubles I can get right so how was. Helped my father -- through in the first draft. Was in 1935. If you look at the history. Of that and it's funny York daily base the whole thing greater. Within that I think is in New York Times wrote the -- felt monument if he did nothing else. To all sports. Warns that -- -- the genius that he had defeat that hundred years early. So -- I mean we could go one on my wood right of the but let me ask -- -- as we -- here at the end. Of the latest NFL draft after all these years in the spirit of power we started with the camaraderie to help build the league with a chance to try to keep. Equality to keep people competitive by the worst teams in the higher -- why is it that after all these years. There are as many or more busts. In the top fifteen picks as there are guys that turn out to be franchise make what. Well let me let me tell -- by a topic for the short story. I first to go to drafts and I guess 1945. Just sitting around with acute when they would come in mistreat their -- move. And stuff for the yellow pad and cold coaches out and try to screw each other after hours. On who would get this choice that choice and I will tell you this might be hard for your audience understand that. Nothing has changed. The IQ tests. The forty yard dash. The tapes that you have today on the try out. The approach days or that I would toward those back in the sixty. Gave BIQ tests in all of the other thing. Nothing has changed. And to prove my point what you what you poly tech jumped in the study. There's more value of 70% better value in the second and third rounds. As a written the first round why. Because I think it's hardest sport to jump. And number one. It's outside of boxing. Is it is the meanest toughest. You name -- type of sport to judge a player. Number two football intelligence. Is completely different than any other sport and completely different from both intelligent right. Number three everything has to be executed within seconds. Now before the injury factor is higher in football than anything else that you can actually and number five in the and nobody has graduated yet. You -- in a sport that requires I think more courage with the exception of boxing Canadian hockey a -- You can never never tell what that person's parties you'll only. Get. And it has never changed the game's bigger better stronger quicker faster more complex. But it has not changed and today the slinging Sammy ball control ball to a higher at like 67 miles and nothing. -- -- -- it's always fun talk and we always educational always informational and again like I said. It's always fun great talking in my for a -- what good luck all right Upton bell. Joining us here on Sunday night on WEEI we're --

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