Fans gather for emotional Ralph Wilson tribute

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ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (WIVB) – The legacy that Ralph Wilson leaves goes hand in hand with the legacy of the Bills as a franchise and both were on display Saturday at the Bills fieldhouse.

Patrick Johnson, a Bills fan, said, “I’m real thankful for everything Mr. Wilson did bringing the franchise here, a lot of great memories growing up as a Bills fan so just wanted to come here and kind of relive some of that.”

John Gallery felt similar, he said, “It brings back a lot of memories because as a kid I remember the old Buffalo Bills from the 60′s in Rockland so to come back and see how this team has progressed over the years and I brought my daughter when they were young and now I have my grandson it just means a lot.”

Fans were able to relive those times through pictures and memorabilia, notably the Bills AFL Championship Trophies.

Johnson said, “If you look around the NFL and you see all the markets and franchises there are many small cities so to have Buffalo be the original AFL franchise and for Mr. Wilson to keep that here I think it means a lot to his commitment to the people.”

Wilson’s golden Hall of Fame jacket and bust were also brought in.

Valerie Pawlek of the Southern Tier Bills Booster Club said, “It’s a celebration of his life and what he stood for, many times he didn’t get the honor he should have but he just fought and kept right in there.”

Fans were also able to see glimpses of Wilson’s personal life and military service.

Nicole Stedman, another fan, said, “I just feel so emotional about it I’ve been reading stuff on Facebook and people’s stories and just seeing people here, you don’t get that through the season but to get all that in one place is just really awesome.  The team is built around the community and the area, it doesn’t feel like the team is bigger than us, we feel like we’re really a part of it.”

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