DeLamielleure, Polian share memories of Wilson

In this Jan. 31, 2009, file photo Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson gestures during a news conference in Tampa, Fla. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95 at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. Bills president Russ Brandon made the announcement at the NFL winter meetings in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Wilson Jr. was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

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.” provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review. Note: Comments containing links are not allowed.

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