Bill Polian would talk with Mr. Wilson regularly, even over the last few years when he was no longer an NFL GM, and there was one conversation that he will cherish in the wake of his former boss’ passing Tuesday.
“A little less than two years ago I was traveling and got a message from (Bills Vice President of Communications) Scott (Berchtold) and he told me to call Mr. Wilson immediately,” recalled Polian. “I thought,’Oh my heavens something is wrong here.’ Of course I called and he got on the line and he said I just want to be the first to tell you that you’ve been elected to the Bills Wall of Fame. And ahh…(emotional) that’s kind of a cherished memory and it’s one I’ll remember.”
Polian expressed his feelings in a conference call with the Western New York media Tuesday, emotions that most in the region were also feeling.
“Obviously I’m saddened. It’s a really rough week for the Bills family because of Mr. Wilson’s passing and Jimmy’s (Kelly) illness. That Bills family includes virtually everyone in Western New York,” he said. “I’m eternally grateful to Mr. Wilson for giving me the opportunity to become a general manager and giving Marv and I the opportunity to build a great football team. I know for a fact during the course of my tenure with the Bills that he had opportunities to entertain offers to move the franchise to places that would be more lucrative. But he gave his word and like everything else he did in his life he kept his word and he said the Bills would never leave Western New York in his lifetime and he was as good as his word.
“He was a very kind man, a person that on a personal level, while he was a fierce competitor and a tough boss, on a personal level he cared about you and he cared about your family. There never was a time that I talked to him including recently when he didn’t inquire about the family. He would send us a Christmas card every year always with a note and a kind thought. I’ve often said that if anything ever happened to me, the first call my wife would get would be from Ralph Wilson.
“It’s a sad day for all of us, but particularly for me because he did so much for me personally and professionally.”
Tags: Bill Polian, Ralph Wilson
Posted in Inside the Bills