Ralph Wilson, the legendary owner of the Buffalo Bills, has died at the age of 95, reports The Buffalo News. Team president, Russ Brandon, announced the passing of Wilson at the NFL Annual Meeting on March 25. Brandon said upon announcing his death, “No one loved the game of football more than Ralph.” Former Bills coach Marv Levy once said about Wilson, “He got into the game not because he knew it would be a moneymaker but because he loved it.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Ralph Wilson Founded the Bills
"The Foolish Club". Ralph Wilson standing behind Bud Adams here pic.twitter.com/z9037IJR6Q
— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) March 25, 2014
Ralph Wilson was the founder of the Buffalo Bills. He had previously stated that the team would not remain in his family after his death, reported ESPN back in 2009. In January 2013, Wilson gave full control of the team Russ Brandon.
In 1959, Wilson paid $25,000 for the team name, in August 2013, the team valuation was at $870 million, according to Forbes.
— Shawn Stepner (@StepnerWKBW) March 26, 2014
2. Wilson is Originally From Detroit
He was a World War II veteran. He was native of Detroit, Michigan, and he maintained a residence in Michigan until his death. At one time, he was a minority shareholder with the Detroit Lions.
3. Ralph Wilson Was a Football Hall-of-Famer
He was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 8, 2009. Upon his induction, former Bills player Paul Maguire said about him, “He’s always understood that owners own, coaches coach, and players play. He always knew to stay in the background, as hard as it is for some owners to do.”
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) March 25, 2014
4. Wilson Had Health Problems in His Later Years
5. Wilson Was Also a Horsebreeder
In addition to his football activities, Wilson was also an accomplished horse breeder. The most famous horse he bred was Jim French, a winner of a Santa Anita derby in 1971.