Ralph Wilson Was A Visionary, A Fan, A Friend

- With a 25-thousand dollar franchise fee and a dream, Ralph Wilson became owner of the Bills in 1959. His AFL team began play in 1960 and the rest was history. 

A merger into the NFL followed as did five decades of memories. 

Wilson was a players owner and treated them like his own kids. After years of losing football, he brought a winner to Western New York with four straight trips to the Super Bowl. 

For Ralph Wilson, pro football was more than a business. It was a way of life. 

"You have to have an owner that has a passion for the game," Wilson said in a 1998 interview. "Don't come in as an investment. Have a passion for pro football, which I have."

"If you want to make a fortune in pro football, you have to sell or die... and I'm not interested in either one of those."

The Bills owner was always present at practice, at training camp and at every game. It's all he knew. 

He was an old-style owner that lived for his team and his team lived for him. He was a throwback to the golden era of sports. 

"I'll tell you one thing.... I've had a lot of fun with this franchise," Wilson said. "Half of my life has been spent here with the franchise and I have had a lot of fun."

Ralph Wilson was 95. The legacy he leaves behind is immeasurable. 

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