ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) - Buffalo is mourning the man that built and guided the Buffalo Bills franchise for more than 50 years. Tuesday night at Ralph Wilson Stadium, just one light shined through the darkness, a glowing tribute to the late Bills owner.
Ralph Wilson was dedicated to his team, and that really showed in the bonds he formed with so many of his players.
So many of the Bills say they owe everything, all of their success, to Ralph Wilson. They all said they have fond memories of the owner and that he made the Bills organization feel like a family.
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“For all of us who played for him or knew him, we were hoping this day would never come.” Former Buffalo Bill Steve Tasker said, “I’m going to miss him greatly.”
“I’m going to miss him without a doubt,” said Hall of Fame Buffalo Bill Thurman Thomas.
“Special guy. They don’t make them like Ralph Wilson,” said Buffalo Bills President Russ Brandon.
Many Bills, past and present, are carrying heavy hearts after Ralph Wilson’s passing. He was a mentor, a friend and for many, a part of a family.
Thomas said, “He used to call me his favorite son. We used to always laugh and joke about that, so it hits home.”
Brandon said, “This is tough. Very tough. I worked for him for almost 18 years. I’ve talked to him every day for 18 years, sometimes multiple times a day.”
They are remembering him for everything he did for the league, and for them.
“It was easy to be motivated to play hard for Ralph and this organization,” said Tasker.
Tasker said, “To say goodbye to a guy who had so much to do with how good it has been for me and my family, that’s really difficult.”
“He and the original owners put this league in the position it is today.” Brandon added, “No one loved this game more than Ralph Wilson.”
Chris Berman told a national audience on ESPN’s Sportscenter that he will remember and honor his friend Ralph Wilson as a loyal man.
Berman said, “Forget just loyalty to Buffalo where others would have said, boy theres a pot of gold somewhere else than Buffalo, New York. He would have none of it. This man served in the US Navy in the Atlantic and the Pacific French. Alright so, before we even get into the football we should honor him as a World War II veteran on both fronts.”
Wilson’s vision, laughter and love for the game will stay with Berman.
Everyone in western New York, especially those closest to the Bills organization, are mourning the loss of Ralph Wilson, but they are all grateful for the time they had with him.