At the age of 95, longtime owner of the Buffalo Bills, Ralph Wilson Jr. has passed away. As an owner, Wilson was able to provide the Bills with years of success. Under his ownership Buffalo won consecutive AFL championships in 1964 and 1965. In addition, they won four straight AFC titles in the early 90’s, and are the only team to make it to four straight Super Bowl appearances. He also was able to provide financial stability to a small market team. Even with the brutal weather of western New York he was able to offer fans and players a great atmosphere on Sundays. As an owner he has the longest tenure, which lasted 54 years.
However, it’s not just what he was able to accomplish as an owner of the Buffalo Bills that makes him a legend in the NFL. If you know your football knowledge, you know he was one of the co-founders of the American Football League (AFL). He was one of the most outspoken and one of the most influence members as well. Wilson was able to help set AFL policies that led to long-term success of the league and also helped two franchises (the Oakland Raiders and the Patriots) stay afloat during troubled times. In 1970, Wilson was one of the driving forces that helped create a merger between the AFL and the NFL, which led to what we all know today as the National Football League. Without him football may not be what we all know today, and for this we thank him.
Wilson certainly is a legend throughout the NFL and will certainly be missed by the fans, league owners, past and current players and many more. Russ Brandon referred to his long time boss as “a great man, an unbelievable leader.” Brandon couldn’t have said it any better. Certainly our thoughts and prayers go out Ralph’s friends and family.