BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – Former Bill and Hall of Famer Joe DeLamielleure says a short phone call from Ralph Wilson in the early 70s started their long friendship.
Joe D said, “We’re both from Detroit and he always tells everyone I was the first guy he drafted.”
Joe D told me Wilson personally called him, but never identified himself just said, ‘we drafted you.’ Joe D thought it was the Pittsburgh Steelers, since he heard they were drafting him, and but Mr. Wilson called back a short time later to clarify.
“Within a couple of minutes .. our 26th pick .. ever since I known him,” said DeLamielleure.
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Ralph Wilson was a kind and generous man, who appreciated a good joke according to Bill Polian, former General Manager of the Buffalo Bills.
Polian said, “Whenever I talked with him on the phone, he always used a nickname that referred back to a joke we told 20 years ago.”
On ESPN at the owners meeting in Orlando, Polian gave Wilson credit for his success.
“He gave me my start as a general manager, he gave Marv Levy and I the opportunity to succeed. He kept the Bills in western New York, he gave his word and kept it until the day he died.”