13 Things Every NFL Fan Needs To Know About The Late, Great Ralph Wilson
The Buffalo Bills' longtime owner died at the age of 95. He'll be deeply missed.
1. He was a proud member of the "Foolish Club."
2. He was the longest-tenured owner in professional football.
Wilson has been the only owner of the Buffalo Bills in the franchise's history — all 54 years.
3. The Oakland Raiders might not exist without him.
4. He hired the first female scout in the NFL — his daughter.
Linda Bogdan was hired as the first active female scout in pro football in 1986 after she "got tired of too many 2-14 seasons." She also served as the team's corporate vice president until she died of cancer in 2009.
5. Wilson donated two Bills tickets to the Boys and Girls Club for every game in Tim Russert's name.
According to a Tweet from Tim's son Luke, after the Meet The Press host and lifelong Buffalo Bills fan died in 2008, Wilson was also one of the first to send flowers to the Russert family.
6. He was considered by many to be the "conscience" of the NFL.
7. He made sure no AFL games were played the Sunday after JFK's death.
8. He is one of the few owners enshrined in the NFL Hall of Fame.
9. Even in his final days he was still giving draft input.
10. His players loved him.
11. And so did the rest of Western New York.
12. He was the Buffalo Bills' biggest fan for 54 years.
As Buffalo Bills President and CEO Russ Brandon said in a statement today: "No one loves this game more than Ralph Wilson. It's very tough. What he's meant to the entire organization. He's our leader, our mentor, our friend. How he loves his players and loved our community. Special guy. They just don't make them like Ralph Wilson."
More than 50 years ago Wilson brought a professional football team to Buffalo, and over that half century he made damn sure it stayed in Buffalo; hopefully it always remains that way.