Woody Johnson did not become owner of the New York Jets until 200o, but the first person he consulted upon deciding to become an NFL owner was Ralph Wilson.
In an interview with the media at the NFL annual meeting in Orlando, Johnson explained how Wilson helped prepare him for NFL ownership.
“He was one of the first guys I met when I decided to pursue this line of work,” said Johnson. “He just described the satisfaction he got out of working with the players and the fans and building this league. It sounded like something that was very interesting. We’re going to miss him. … We’re lucky to have had a guy like that because you had a guy like that in the right place at the right time to form this league. We’re lucky. We’ve lost quite a few of them in the last few years. We’ve lost Lamar Hunt, we’ve lost Al [Davis]. It’s sad to see these guys go.”
The Jets owner also spoke of the presence Wilson had when he attended the owners’ meetings and how revered he was by the other owners.
“He wanted to be in the room,” said Johnson. “He was always a presence in the room. And he always spoke very fluently about the past — what football meant to him and why we were getting away from it. If we were going off course, he would let us know.”
Johnson also fittingly called the passing of Mr. Wilson as the close to a special time in the history of football.
“It’s the end of a real important era. Ralph was so important in developing football into what it is today,” said Johnson. “He was the NFL. He was the AFL. He was always a guy that was up to the task. He had a great sense of humor. He was a great speaker. I heard his Hall of Fame speech he gave at age 91. It was better than most people could give at the age of 31. He was really just an incredible leader with great vision and so it’s an end of really a major, major part of American football to lose a guy like Ralph Wilson.”
Tags: Ralph Wilson, Woody Johnson
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