Ralph Wilson dedicated his life to football and the Buffalo Bills. (Credit: ESPN)
Today (March 25, 2014), the legendary owner of the Buffalo Bills, Mr. Ralph Wilson, passed away at the age of 95.
To commemorate his wonderful contributions to the game of football, as well as being a role model for all who love the game, we will count down the Top 10 Moments of his career:
1. Ralph Wilson founded the Buffalo Bills in 1959, and they become the seventh team in the newly formed AFL. Wilson remained owner until his death. It cost Wilson an investment of $25,000 in 1959 for the expansion team, which was seen as a risk because the AFL was to challenge the powerhouse NFL.
2. In 1962, Wilson lent the Oakland Raiders $400,000 to keep the team in existence and to keep the AFL from possibly folding. He was given a 25% share of the team, but relinquished that share when he was paid back.
3. In 1964, the Bills won the AFL Championship, and Wilson helped negotiate the first big money television contract for the AFL.
4. From 1990 to 1993, the Bills won four straight AFC Championships. Although they unfortunately weren’t able to win a Super Bowl, this feat is still unprecedented.
5. Rich Stadium was completely renovated in 1998, and it was also renamed Ralph Wilson Stadium in Wilson’s honor.
6. Wilson retired from team activities in 2001, but he would return some years later.
7. In 2006, Wilson returned to team activities. He was one of two NFL owners to vote against the proposed collective bargaining agreement, feeling that it would not resolve long-term issues. Showing his football prowess, every other owner agreed with him two years later and opted out of the agreement.
8. In a move much maligned by Bills fans, Wilson’s team becomes the first to play a home game outside of the United States, as they struck a deal to play some games just up the road in Toronto.
9. In 2009, Ralph Wilson becomes the oldest person to be inducted into the Hall of Fame at age 90.
10. Ralph Wilson dies at age 95 on March 25, 2014, ending one of the greatest football lives we will ever see.
There’s no way a list of ten moments can quantify what Wilson did for the game of football, the Bills, and the city of Buffalo. Our condolences go out to Ralph Wilson’s family during this difficult time, but I am sure his legacy will live on forever!