Photo: Ralph Wilson
Mr. Ralph Wilson Jr., founder of the Buffalo Bills and the most
influential sports figure Western New York ever has known, has died at
“He passed away peacefully at his home with his beautiful
wife, Mary, and his daughters by his side,” Bills President and Chief
Executive Officer Russ Brandon told The News while at the NFL owners
meetings in Orlando, Fla.
Wilson did not put Buffalo on the map, but he did as much as anyone to keep it there.
brought major league sports to Buffalo in 1959, when he joined a group
that became known as “The Foolish Club,” eight businessmen led by Texas
oilman Lamar Hunt, who founded the American Football League. The initial
cost to Wilson was $25,000, and challenging the established National
Football League was considered a risky venture.
became a stroke of genius, as pro football blossomed into America’s
favorite sport. Wilson’s team is valued today at roughly $870 million,
based on estimates by Forbes Magazine. The Bills arguably are the
single-most identifiable and unifying institution in Western New York.
on March 25, 2014 - 3:05 PM / updated March 25, 2014 at 6:06 PM