Tragedy has befallen the Buffalo Bills organization today. Their owner, Ralph Wilson, Jr., has passed away at the age of 95. Mr. Wilson was a Football Icon who was single-handedly responsible for keeping the Oakland Raiders afloat during a desperate time of financial hardship.
In the early 1960′s, the fledgling franchise known as the Oakland Raiders was in financial despair. As one of the three AFL Owners that were financially sound, Ralph Wilson lent the Oakland Raiders $400,000, and he also helped out the owner of the New England Patriots. His help likely saved the American Football League (AFL) from going under. In the late 60′s and early 70′s, Wilson, along with Al Davis, was instrumental in lobbying to merge the AFL and NFL. In 1972, the two leagues were merged to form the NFL we know today.
Without Ralph Wilson, there may have never been an Oakland Raiders franchise. There may have never been a Raider Nation, Black Hole, or a Commitment to Excellence. Today, the National Football League (NFL) lost one of the greats. My heart is saddened to learn of his loss, and my thoughts and prayers go out to the Wilson Family, the Buffalo Bills organization, and to the fans of the Buffalo Bills.
Ralph Wilson, Jr., is a man who was well-respected among his peers and among football fans, and he will never be forgotten.