Category Archives: Ralph Wilson
It was 55 years ago yesterday that Ralph Wilson, owner of the Buffalo Bills, first met with Buffalo-area politicians to negotiate a lease for his team to play in The Old Rockpile. A short story on this subject was posted yesterday in The Buffalo News, and can be found HERE.
Buffalo Bills owner, Ralph Wilson, passed away last week at the age of 95. Here is a news clip from Western New York, remembering the great Bills owner.
Ralph Wilson, founder and longtime owner of the Buffalo Bills, passes away today. He was 95 years old. Wilson was the last current NFL owner with ties back to The Foolish Club, the original group of AFL owners. Barron Hilton is now the sole surviving member of that group.
Ralph Wilson joined the American Football League with a background as a minority owner of the NFL’s Detroit Lions. But once he jumped into the AFL, he was all Buffalo Bills. Wilson not only guided his own team, but was integral in ensuring the success of the league as a whole. He was once president of the AFL, helped to negotiate television contracts, the AFL-NFL merger, and even lent money to the Oakland Raiders in lean years when the franchise had difficulty staying afloat.
I picked up a copy of the 1969 Buffalo Bills Annual recently. Known by other teams as a yearbook, this 48-page booklet has a lot of great information on the Bills final AFL squad.
One article that piqued my interest was an interview with owner Ralph Wilson, as his club entered into the AFL’s closing season. The question that struck me the most was when Wilson was asked what pitfalls pro football must guard against to survive. Could this have been a back-handed jab at Joe Namath, whose star was never brighter than after his Super Bowl III victory the previous season? I thought Wilson’s answer about Hollywood stars becoming bigger than the industry was a great bit of insight, especially when viewed in-light of the modern NFL. I have never understood how a head coach can maintain a leadership role when his salary is lower than many of those players who are supposed to answer to him. I wonder how Wilson would answer that question today, or better, if he thinks that the modern NFL did a good job in not swinging “too far from stability.”
As the man in charge of the Buffalo Bills, Ralph Wilson was one of the American Football League’s original eight franchise owners. Today he is one of just two such men still in football (the other being Bud Adams of the Tennessee Titans), and the only one with his original team and city. In this short video, Chris Berman, an AFL fan of the highest regard, discusses what has made Ralph Wilson such an asset to professional football, and why he was such a deserving Hall of Fame inductee in 2009.