At the annual NFL owners' meeting, Bills' president, Russ Brandon, announced the passing of long time Bills' owner Ralph Wilson, Jr.. He died at home surrounded by his wife and daughters. He was 95.
Ralph Wilson became one of the original 8 members of the AFL, when he purchased a franchise for $25,000. The group was nicknamed "The Foolish Club" for challenging the long established NFL. Mr. Wilson was the last survivor of that club still in the NFL. Barron Hilton, founder of the Los Angeles Chargers (since relocated to San Diego), is the last living member.
Mr. Wilson once loaned $400,000 to Al Davis' Raiders to keep the franchise afloat. He was an innovator and integral to the survival of the fledgling AFL. Along with Al Davis, he was instrumental in the AFL-NFL merger that allowed the NFL as we know it to grow.
Mr. Wilson was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009. His Bills' played in four consecutive Super Bowls in the early 1990's.
Buffalo Rumblings has a tribute to Ralph Wilson if you would like to comment. Please be respectful of their loss, and the loss to the NFL as a whole.
Robert Kraft issued the following statement:
"I would like to extend my sincerest sympathies to Ralph’s wife, Mary, his daughters and his extended family, including every coach, player, staff member and fan of the Buffalo Bills who are mourning his loss today. As one of the founding fathers of the AFL, Ralph deserves a lot of credit for taking that initial risk and for the many contributions he made to the NFL over the past 54 years. He built a franchise that the Buffalo community loves and embraces. Personally, I will always be grateful for how he welcomed me when I first entered the league. He was always a gracious host and I will never forget that. I will miss him."