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Inside The Bills

Mrs. Wilson thanks fans for paying respects

Posted by Chris Brown on April 5, 2014 – 3:02 pm

Mary Wilson, the widow of Bills founder and Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson spent almost an hour thanking fans as they made their way through the Memorial Celebration set up in the Bills Fieldhouse Saturday. The first two fans she thanked were Dennis Brown and Regina Moultrie.

“That’s was a big shock. She came up and said, ‘I like your outfit’ and I wasn’t really paying attention because I’m waiting to sign the (registry) book and I’m like, ‘Oh thank you.’ And then I’m looking at Regina and she’s making this face and I turn around and say ‘Oh God,’” said Brown. “But she was really, really nice. That was really, really nice.”

Brown, who made his way to Canton back in 2009 to watch Ralph Wilson’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony was touched by Mrs. Wilson’s presence as was fellow fan Regina Moultrie, who also felt the display in the Bills Fieldhouse was a fitting tribute.

“I think they did him well. There’s a lot of history here that I didn’t know,” Moultrie said. “For all I knew he was just the owner of the Bills. I found out a lot of things in the past week and a half from the news reports. It’s just amazing to see so many people come out and then Mary Wilson gave me a hug, so that was pretty amazing.”

“It feels real good to be a Bills fans today,” said Brown.

For those fans that Mrs. Wilson could not personally thank Mrs. Wilson issued the following statement.

“I want to take this opportunity to thank Bills fans and people everywhere for their tremendous outpouring of love for Ralph. Their heartfelt condolences and warm wishes have truly been a comfort for me, Ralph’s daughters Christy and Dee Dee, Mary Owen and the entire Wilson family during this difficult time.

“Ralph loved his life and he had a great full life that touched so many people in a variety of ways. He loved his family and his many friends. He loved his Buffalo Bills and he loved the fans. Before he passed, he told me that he wanted people to celebrate his life after he was gone. He wasn’t big on tears. And so that’s why we are referring to events such as the one today as “celebrating” the life of Ralph Wilson.

“This man accomplished so many things during his time and most of them have been well documented in the past couple of weeks. But the one thing that everyone has mentioned in their kind words was his sense of humor and that certainly was one of his most endearing qualities. Ralph most likely would have offered a funny quip about today’s event. But at the same time, he would have been profoundly touched by the fans outpouring of emotion.”


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Packers Pres. & CEO on Wilson’s vision

Posted by Chris Brown on March 26, 2014 – 3:44 pm

Green Bay Packers President and CEO Mark Murphy extended his sympathies to the Wilson family on their loss. Born and raised in Western New York, Murphy was able to relate a bit more to the legacy left by the Bills founder and owner.

“The Green Bay Packers extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Ralph Wilson and the Buffalo Bills organization,” said Murphy in a statement. “Ralph was a key leader in the success of professional football and its growth as America’s favorite game. We owe him a tremendous amount of gratitude for his work. He also was a friend of the Packers, a fellow small-market team, as the league evolved its business operations to ensure all teams had firm financial footing to achieve competitive balance on the field. The success of the league is a lasting testament to Ralph’s vision.

“On a personal note, as a life-long Bills fan, I have a great appreciation for all he did for the Bills and the Western New York community over the years.”


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Eagles Chairman on loss of Wilson

Posted by Chris Brown on March 26, 2014 – 1:38 pm

Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie was one of the many who expressed his condolences hearing of the passing of Bills founder and owner Ralph Wilson. What Lurie said he valued most was Wilson’s willingness to think outside the box when it came to league matters.

“I admired his independent thinking on every issue that arose and will always remember his welcoming support when I came in to the league,” Lurie said in a statement. “He was a great example of ownership based on his love of the sport and especially his Buffalo Bills. On behalf of the Philadelphia Eagles, I would like to pass along my condolences to the Wilson family and to the entire Buffalo Bills organization.

“Ralph Wilson was not only a founding father of the American Football League, but an iconic leader of what is so special about the NFL. He was a man who loved his football team and his Buffalo fans and always wanted what was best for the NFL.”


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Goodell on Mr. Wilson’s legacy

Posted by Chris Brown on March 26, 2014 – 11:40 am

In his scheduled press conference at the NFL’s annual meeting in Orlando Wednesday morning, Commissioner Roger Goodell was asked to comment on the loss of Mr. Wilson, who passed away Tuesday at age 95.

“Yesterday was a sad day for the NFL and for a lot of us in the NFL he was a special man,” said Goodell. “Coming from Western New York, I know how much he did for the Western New York region and I also know what he’s done for the NFL, just seeing it first hand as a commissioner. He’s a great owner and he was the kind of guy that was principled, he was strong, he understood when to compromise.

“He’s going to be missed by the NFL and by me personally. I spoke to Mary (Wilson) last night and I’ll be at the funeral. He’s someone that deserves to be in the Hall of Fame and he’s really done incredible things for the league, for pro football in general, and that’s something that will be a great legacy for him.”

Goodell was also asked if anything can be said about the franchise as it moves forward now absent an owner.  “Well I haven’t focused on that,” he said. “Obviously my thoughts and my heart are with the Wilson family. That’s not something I’ve spent any time on in recent days. We all know they have a lease, we know the terms of that lease and we all know we have to find a long-term solution to keep the Bills there and that’s what we’ll continue to work to do. That’s not our priority right now in the next few days.”


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Jets owner first consulted with Wilson

Posted by Chris Brown on March 26, 2014 – 11:05 am

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.”

 


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Gregg Williams statement on Ralph Wilson

Posted by Chris Brown on March 26, 2014 – 10:12 am

Former Bills head coach and current St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams issued the following statement on his former boss Ralph Wilson following his passing Tuesday.

“I join the entire football community in mourning the loss of a truly great man in Ralph Wilson. I’m forever grateful to Mr. Wilson for giving me the opportunity to be a head coach in the National Football League. As a coach, Mr. Wilson was everything you could ask for in an owner. He was a very passionate football fan. He was progressive in his thoughts, he loved his players and he provided every resource you could ask for. It’s hard to imagine where our game and our league might be today were it not for his role in creating and more importantly sustaining the American Football League. My thoughts and prayers are with the entire Wilson family at this difficult time.”

Williams’ first head coaching job in the NFL was under Wilson with the Bills in 2001.

WILLIAMS WILSON

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Tasker: He cared deeply about this team

Posted by Chris Brown on March 25, 2014 – 9:13 pm

Bills Wall of Famer Steve Tasker took time to reflect on Mr. Wilson’s legacy in the game Tuesday after news of his passing. Loyal to Mr. Wilson for all he did for him, his career and his family, Tasker explained how much the Bills meant to the Hall of Fame owner.

Tasker even got choked up when he thought back to how much Mr. Wilson enjoyed the big victories.

“Back in those days when we were winning games… uhhh, occasionally… occasionally when we’d win a big one… it was great… to see what it meant to him,” said Tasker. “He didn’t fake his joy. He didn’t put on a front for how happy it made him. He didn’t make up any emotions to make it look good for any media or any fans.

“When the Bills won a big game, it was as if he was the only fan, and sometimes in the dark days maybe he was, but this team mattered to him deeply. For all the criticism and all the bad years and the dark times, the back to back 2-14 teams, it wasn’t because he didn’t care. He cared deeply.”

For Tasker even though it was a day he knew would eventually come, it didn’t make the news of Mr. Wilson’s passing any easier Tuesday.

“I’m like all of us. A lot of Bills fans have been standing on this cliff for a long time, but for those of us that played for him and knew him we were hoping it didn’t ever come,” he said. “I was pretty sad. I’m sad. I’m broken hearted over it. He’s a guy that I not only had a great deal of affection for personally, but I had a lot of respect for and I owed a lot of my success professionally and personally to him and this organization and I never forgot that and I never will. So I’m going to miss him greatly.”


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Levy: He wasn’t my boss, he was my friend

Posted by Chris Brown on March 25, 2014 – 9:07 pm

The passing of Bills founder and owner Ralph Wilson Tuesday led to an awful lot of sadness throughout the Bills family. One of the men that helped to bring him the most success in team history was also one of his closest friends in Hall of Fame head coach Marv Levy. Levy shared his thoughts on the man he worked for 12 years as a head coach and a few more as a general manager.

“He wasn’t my boss. He was my friend,” said Levy. “He was a magnificent guy to work with. I’m deeply saddened to hear of his passing. He meant so much to the game that both of us revered and to the community of Buffalo and beyond.”

Levy and Wilson had a unique relationship that was far different from most of the coach-owner relationship in the league then and now.

“I truly enjoyed getting together with him. If we went to the league meetings we would go out to dinner together or have breakfast together. He was fun to be with,” Levy said. “We shared interest in many things and certainly the game of football. He was a unique man to work for in that he would strongly express his opinions and he would really listen even if you had a contrary opinion.

“I could remember once he wanted me to replace an assistant coach on the staff and I thought it was so wrong to do in that case and I persisted and I wondered if I was putting myself under the gun and finally at the end he said, ‘Ah I still don’t agree with you, but you’re the coach.’ And a few years later he liked the guy.”

“He was fun to be with and players would tell you that. Almost every time he’d come to practice he would exchange jibes with the players, particularly Thurman, but certainly others too who weren’t reticent about doing that with the owner.”

Levy said since the day he retired from football he made a point to call Mr. Wilson every month to check in, but he sensed the Bills owner might be struggling with his health of late.

“I’d call him and on occasion he’d call me just to see how you were doing. I did this for all the years since I retired,” he said. “But about four or five months ago I began to detect that maybe he was struggling a bit to communicate and I spoke maybe a time or two more with Mary Wilson to see how he was doing, but it was about once a month we’d have a telephone conversation about nothing just to talk to each other.

“It’s quite a loss and he’s going to be remembered so fondly by everyone who knew him.”


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Polian’s last memorable talk with Mr. Wilson

Posted by Chris Brown on March 25, 2014 – 8:39 pm

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.”


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Bills game will be on TV

Posted by Chris Brown on November 15, 2013 – 7:38 am

The Bills Week 11 game against the Jets this Sunday will be seen on local television. Bills owner Ralph Wilson for the second time this season has purchased the remaining outstanding tickets in time to beat the blackout deadline.

Bills C Eric Wood announced the game as a sellout in his weekly radio appearance on Kiss 98.5 with Janet and Nick in the morning.

Buffalo was given a 24-hour extension until Friday at 1 pm to lift the blackout. Wilson did the same thing in the last Bills home game against the Chiefs to make sure the game aired on television.

Fans can go to select NOCO locations and purchase two tickets for $25 to the game. All ticket proceeds will go to the Wounded Warriors Project during this Salute to Service month.


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Ralph Wilson part of Hall of Fame Reunion

Posted by johnmurphyshow on August 2, 2013 – 12:57 pm

It’s Hall of Fame weekend in Canton, and it’s a special one. The Pro Football Hall of Fame has assembled as many living members as possible for a Golden Anniversary Reunion to mark the 50th anniversary of the shrine.

Bills Owner Ralph Wilson took his place among the game’s greats Friday morning, when the Hall of Famers staged a “Red Carpet” arrival on the steps of the Hall in Canton. They then assembled for a group photo, with Mr. Wilson seated among the legendary players and contributors to the game, including former Bills Coach Marv Levy and Quarterback Jim Kelly.

Mr. Wilson was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009. He returned to Canton last August, to help dedicate the new Ralph Wilson, Jr. Pro Football Research and Preservation Center. And he made a sizable donation this past year to support the Hall in its 50th Anniversary Enshrinement Festival and Golden Anniversary Reunion.


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Brandon: Mr. Wilson excited for 2013

Posted by Chris Brown on July 29, 2013 – 10:14 am

Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon made an appearance on the Howard Simon show Monday morning on Bills’ flagship station WGR Sportsradio 550. He was asked for an update on how Mr. Wilson is doing.

Brandon said the Bills Hall of Fame owner is glad the doldrums of early July are over and football is up and running again.

“I talk to him every day. He’s doing fantastic,” said Brandon. “He’s excited for the start of camp. He’s really doing outstanding.”

 

 

 


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2 safety picks proactive move for Bills

Posted by Chris Brown on April 28, 2013 – 12:58 am

On day three of the NFL draft, the Bills made back-to-back safety picks in rounds four and five taking S Duke Williams from Nevada and S Jonathan Meeks from Clemson. The choices appeared to be proactive to protect themselves against the possibility of Jairus Byrd not being back with the club for the long haul.

Bills GM Buddy Nix indicated that their choices in those two rounds were based on board value more than anything else.

“They were the two best guys up there at the time we were picking,” said Nix. “Obviously we want to be prepared for whatever happens.”

To this point Byrd has not signed his franchise tender. Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon is hoping Byrd and the club can reach an agreement on a long term agreement.

“He has the opportunity to wait until he’s comfortable,” said Brandon of Byrd signing his one-year franchise tender. “We’ll continue that dialogue. You always want to always have all your guys here, but we understand the situation and we’ll just keep working through it.”

Brandon also confirmed that the club would like to have Byrd back in the fold.

“Organizationally of course we’d love to have him back,” said of Byrd. “We utilized the asset that was available to us with the franchise tag as you all know. It’s a priority for the organization and we hope to continue to work through the process with him and more importantly his agent, and we’ll keep conversations in a fluid process.”

 


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Mr. Wilson spoke with Marrone

Posted by Chris Brown on January 7, 2013 – 4:53 pm

Bills owner Ralph Wilson was kept abreast of all the developments that were going on throughout the interview process with head coaching candidates last week. Team President and CEO Russ Brandon told Buffalobills.com that he called Mr. Wilson almost half a dozen times last week to keep him up to date on the coaching search.

Brandon indicated that when the Bills coaching search committee had reached a decision he called Mr. Wilson to fill him in.

“We had a long, open dialogue and conversation,” Brandon told Buffalobills.com. “I told him exactly why we’re moving in this direction. He was excited and very aware of Coach Marrone’s background. He talked to Doug today and had a great conversation with him and said he’s looking forward to him leading us.”

For more on how the Bills landed Doug Marrone check the home page of Buffalobills.com Tuesday morning.


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Brandon: I’m humbled and honored

Posted by Chris Brown on January 1, 2013 – 12:16 pm

Bills CEO Russ Brandon also has now assumed the team’s day-to-day organizational control as he has been given the added title of Team President. Here are some of his opening comments at today’s press conference.

He began by talking about his day long visit with Bills owner Ralph Wilson in Detroit on Monday. 

“It was a rather emotional visit,” said Brandon. “He told me he was passing the torch to me to run this franchise with zero restrictions and zero limitations.

“We understand and appreciate the frustration of our great fans. We acknowledge and own it and we will never run from it. This is an organization with a proud tradition, but I will tell you that this brand has been tarnished. It’s relevancy has been tarnished and it’s unacceptable because we just haven’t won enough games. It’s a production business and we’re in this to win games. It’s time to lead this franchise into the future with a new legacy.”


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Mr. Wilson nominated for Salute to Service

Posted by Chris Brown on November 12, 2012 – 1:11 pm

The NFL and USAA, the NFL’s Official Military Appreciation Sponsor, announced nominees for the second annual NFL Salute to Service Award and Bills owner Ralph Wilson is the nominee for the Bills.

2012 SALUTE TO SERVICE TEAM NOMINEES

TEAM NOMINEE
Atlanta Falcons Mike Smith, Head Coach
Baltimore Ravens John Harbaugh, Head Coach
Buffalo Bills Ralph C. Wilson, Owner and President
Carolina Panthers Ron Rivera, Head Coach
Chicago Bears Charles Tillman, DB
Cincinnati Bengals Paul Brondhaver, Game Day Volunteer
Cleveland Browns Joe Thomas, OT
Dallas Cowboys Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders
Denver Broncos Denver Broncos Cheerleaders
Houston Texans Gary Kubiak, Head Coach
Indianapolis Colts Pat McAfee, P
Jacksonville Jaguars Mike Mularkey, Head Coach
Kansas City Chiefs Robert Alberino, VP Media/Marketing
Minnesota Vikings Jared Allen, DE
New Orleans Saints Joe Vitt, Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers
New York Giants Tom Coughlin, Head Coach
New York Jets Ben Kotwica, Assistant Special Teams Coach
Philadelphia Eagles DeSean Jackson, WR
Pittsburgh Steelers Troy Polamalu, S
Seattle Seahawks Mike Flood, VP Community Relations
St. Louis Rams Jeff Fisher, Head Coach
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Mark Dominik, GM
Washington Redskins Darrel Young, FB

Mr. Wilson served in the Navy in World War II and has supported numerous Veteran causes.

Teams from around the league nominated NFL players, alumni, and personnel who demonstrate an exemplary commitment to honoring and supporting the military community. USAA is a leading provider of insurance and other services to members of the U.S. military and their families.

Fans can visit www.millionfansalute.com to view videos of NFL team’s supporting their local military units, download and share photos, and offer a salute to the military on behalf of their favorite team.  NFL cities with the most salutes will earn rewards for their local military community from USAA.

To read each team’s Salute to Service nomination, visit www.nfl.com/salute.


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Chan: Mr. Wilson upset with losing

Posted by Chris Brown on November 5, 2012 – 4:34 pm

Bills owner Ralph Wilson speaks with GM Buddy Nix every day and he speaks with head coach Chan Gailey once a week. Gailey says Mr. Wilson is as unhappy as anyone else with the lack of success in the first half of the 2012 season.

“He’s upset we’re losing,” said Gailey. “Would you expect anything less? He’s upset we’re losing. That’s made very clear, which I understand. I am too. We’ve got to win and our weekly conversations will go better.”


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Mr. Wilson on passing of Art Modell

Posted by Chris Brown on September 6, 2012 – 12:12 pm

Bills owner Ralph Wilson issued the following statement on behalf of the Bills organization on the passing of former Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens owner Art Modell.

“I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Art Modell.  Art and I were good friends and while we remained competitive in respect to our teams, we shared many laughs over the years. He was an influential figure in our league and was respected tremendously within the NFL ownership group. Art was a loving family man and he and Pat made a great team. I want to extend my deepest sympathies to his sons David and John and the entire Modell family and all of his friends.”

Modell passed of natural causes at age 87 with his family at his bed side.


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Mr. Wilson home from hospital

Posted by Chris Brown on September 5, 2012 – 12:23 pm

There was good news Wednesday concerning Bills Hall of Fame owner Ralph Wilson, who was hospitalized in Michigan last week.

The team reports that Mr. Wilson is home from the hospital and doing well. He got home from the hospital Tuesday according to head coach Chan Gailey.

“We talked before he went in the hospital and I haven’t talked to him since he got home yesterday,” said Gailey Wednesday. “I’m sure we’ll talk some time soon though.”


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Mr. Wilson in good condition

Posted by Chris Brown on August 30, 2012 – 6:26 pm

The reports that Bills owner Ralph Wilson has been hospitalized are accurate, but Mr. Wilson is in good condition. If there are any other developments to pass along we will do so.


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