ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson has passed away, the team announced Tuesday. He was 95.
News 4 Sports Director takes a special look back at the life of the only owner of the Buffalo Bills:
They called it the “Foolish Club”, and Ralph Wilson was an original member. In 1960, he spent $25,000 to buy a team in the new American Football League. He was the only original member to keep his team in the same city.
Wilson, a native of Detroit, picked Buffalo as the home of the Bills because he couldn’t get a lease at the stadium in Miami.
HALL OF FAME | Ralph Wilson recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame
Ralph would be rewarded with AFL titles in 1964 and 1965. He would be thrilled by the OJ Simpson teams of the ’70′s, but disappointed by the team’s of the mid ’80′s.
But then, Wilson made his two most important decisions. He hired Bill Polian as General Manager, and signed Jim Kelly. It was then, that Buffalo truly embraced the millionaire owner from Detroit.
Ralph Wilson had said, “You’ve always supported a guy from across Lake Erie. Who has always had his heart and his soul in Buffalo with the Bills.”
One of Wilson’s favorite moments may have been with Bruce Smith after the 1990 AFC championship game when Smith said, “We’re going to the show. Oh baby. We’re going to the show.”
The Bills have struggled since then, and Wilson has angered Bills fans by moving games to Toronto. In 2009, he received the sport’s highest honor, joining the greats of the game in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“It has been a grand ride for me and tonight is the high point,” Wilson said at the Hall of Fame Induction.
Asked why he didn’t ever move the bills to a big-market city, Wilson said “I’m interested in winning some games. I’m not interested in sitting in the kitchen counting $5 bills.”