The Buffalo Bills franchise lost their patriarch Tuesday, as owner Ralph Wilson Jr. died at the age of 95 at his home outside Detroit.
Wilson had a big impact in pro football, from taking over the Bills in 1959, leading the AFL-NFL merger charge in 1970, and, despite multiple relocation opportunities, keeping the Bills in Western New York throughout. He was rewarded with league-wide respect, induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and his name affixed to the stadium in which his Bills’ play.
SiriusXM NFL Radio analyst Bill Polian, who was the Bills general manager from 1986 to 1993, remembered Ralph Wilson Jr. with stories from his days as a young executive under the owner.
The thing I remember most about him is his integrity, which was rock solid. His care for the people that worked for him [...] and his genuine sense of humor. He had a great sense of humor and could always have a laugh and he was fun to be with. And for Western New Yorkers, he brought the Bills there and he kept them there. I can’t think of any other owner who would have done that given how much money is in the NFL now and how much money was available to him during the course of his life. He felt a bond with the community [...] and felt that the Bills belong there.”
SiriusXM NFL Radio and NFL.com analyst “The Godfather” Gil Brandt called into Late Hits and talked about Wilson Jr.’s influence on the league.
With SiriusXM NFL Radio down at the NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando, Fla., Movin the Chains and Late Hits were able to sit down with other team owners who shared their thoughts and memories:
Philadelphia Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie
Kansas City Chiefs chairman and CEO Clark Hunt
The channel also spoke with former Bills players to get their thoughts:
Former guard Billy Shaw
Former wide receiver Steve Tasker
Stay tuned to SiriusXM NFL Radio, channel 88, for more remembrances of Ralph Wilson Jr.