Mike Bell Born: August 30, 1957 (Wichita, KS)
Graduated: Bishop Carroll High School, 1975.
Colorado State University, 1979.
Years after his professional football career ended, Mike Bell was asked whether all the physical pain his career caused him was worth it. Bell’s answer to that question reveals a lot about his character.
“Every second of it,” he responded without hesitation.
For Bell, football was life. As long as he was playing, he was living his dream. And what a dream career he experienced: First Team All-State in high school. First Team All-American in college. First round NFL draft pick of his favorite professional team capped off with a stellar NFL career which lasted twelve seasons. And years later, induction into nearly every hall of fame representing his hometown, his college alma mater, and finally his home state of Kansas. Yes, football was Mike Bell’s life and what a fabulous football life he experienced!
Mike and his twin brother Mark were both standout prep performers at Bishop Carroll High School in Wichita and later continued their careers together at Colorado State University. Both played professionally in the NFL. Mike was a Wichita Eagle “Top Eleven” All-State pick in 1974 after recording eleven sacks from his defensive line position.
He entered the national college spotlight in 1976 as a hulking 6’-5”, 265-pound sophomore defensive lineman wearing the green and gold of Colorado State University. Bell recorded 86 tackles and ten sacks on his way to earning a spot on the Football News Sophomore All-America team. He possessed an astonishing blend of strength and quickness that made him almost impossible to block, attributes which placed him on the radar for future honors and opportunity to play in the NFL.
Bell followed his sophomore season with an even more outstanding junior year in 1977 when he totaled 103 tackles, fifteen sacks, four forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. He was a first-team All-Western Athletic Conference selection and a second-team All-American by the Associated Press. In CSU’s victory over Arizona State, he was named national lineman of the week by both Sports Illustrated and the AP after dominating the Sun Devils with 17 tackles, four sacks, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery, and a safety!
Despite an injury-shortened senior year, Bell once again earned All-American status and finished second in the voting for the Outland Trophy given to the nation’s best lineman. He was selected as the number-two overall pick in the 1979 NFL Draft by his “hometown” team, the Kansas City Chiefs.
Bell had an immediate positive impact on the Chiefs’ defensive line, recording five and a half sacks as a rookie. His best statistical year came in 1983 when he registered ten sacks and 75 tackles. His success continued in 1984 when he recorded a career best 13.5 sacks. Both years, he was named as an alternate for the AFC pro bowl team. During his twelve years with the Chiefs, Bell led the team in sacks twice and his 51 career sacks ranked second in franchise history when he retired in 1991. He recorded 490 tackles with 10 fumble recoveries in the 135 games played for KC.
Revered as one of the greatest athletes in Kansas sports history, the honors Mike Bell has received include being selected as one of the top 20 Wichita high school athletes of the century, induction into the Wichita Sports Hall of Fame, the Colorado State University Hall of Fame, the Kansas Shrine Bowl Hall of Fame, and as a member of Colorado State’s all-century team.