Reaction on passing of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.

Posted Mar 25, 2014

Condolences and support from around the NFL have poured in, in the wake of the passing of Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.

Roger Goodell:

“Ralph Wilson was a driving force in developing pro football into America's most popular sport. He loved the game and took a chance on a start-up league in 1960 as a founding owner of the American Football League. He brought his beloved Bills to western New York and his commitment to the team's role in the community set a standard for the NFL. As a trusted advisor to his fellow league owners and the commissioner, Ralph always brought a principled and common-sense approach to issues. His lifelong loyalty to the game was instrumental in his richly deserved induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We are grateful for his many contributions to the NFL and offer our heartfelt sympathy to the Wilson family.”

Bill Polian:

“It’s a sad day for everyone in the Bills family, myself included. He gave me my start in this business as a general manager when no one even knew my name. So I have a great regard and great affection for him. I think that what most people don’t know is the great sense of humor he had. He was really always available with a joke and a quip. He was passionate about his team – very demanding about his team, but he had a great sense of humor and (he was) a very kind person. People that are close to the Bills know about the many kindnesses that he shared with people through the years with absolutely no public notice. … A really good man. A decent man. Very important for the NFL – kept the Bills in Buffalo when he could have had very much better deals in many other places. But always said the Bills in his lifetime will never leave Buffalo and he kept that word. He was a man of his word; you could take his word to the bank. You didn’t need a contract with Ralph Wilson.”


Luke Russert:

"I always remember Mr. Wilson as the consumate gentleman. He was kind, caring and forever loyal to Buffalo and Western New York. When my father passed he was one of the first people to send flowers and a condolence card. He also donated two Bills tickets to every game to the Boys and Girls Club in honor of my dad--it was so generous. I grew up a huge fan of Mr. Wilson because each Christmas he sent my family a regulation size football made of chocolate--he knew how to win over kids!
"I don't think it's a stretch to say that Mr. Wilson was responsible for giving Western New York a large part of its identity. Thousands of fathers and sons have bonded over his team and for me, Bills memories with dad are some of the most cherished. We are the Bills and the Bills are here thanks to Mr. Wilson."

C.J. Spiller:

I would like to send out my condolences to the entire family of Mr. Ralph Wilson. He will forever be remembered and loved by myself and the rest of the Bills fans across the world. I personally want to thank Mr. Wilson for drafting me and showing me what a great organization he has built. As I sit here and think back, I remember first meeting him shortly before my press conference the day after the draft. He looked me in the eye and said, “I know that you will put some points up for us.” I will not let you down, Mr. Wilson. May God be with you and your family always. This world has lost a great leader, but his legacy will surely live on forever.

Arizona Cardinals:

President Michael Bidwill - "At a critical juncture in the National Football League's history, Ralph Wilson provided a level of leadership and vision that helped make the NFL what it is today. He not only recognized the sport's potential popularity and success but was pivotal in helping to achieve it. Our hearts go out to his wife Mary, the Bills organization and everyone in Western New York on their tremendous loss."

Washington Redskins:

“We are deeply saddened by the passing of the great Ralph Wilson. All of us have lost a NFL legend whose passion for his team was inspiring. We will always be thankful for Ralph's contributions to the development of the AFL and NFL.”

Oakland Raiders:

“Mark Davis, Carol Davis and the rest of the Raider family wish to express our condolences to the Wilson family at this time.”

Governor Andrew Cuomo:

“Today we lost a legendary member of the New York family. Ralph Wilson Jr., the last remaining original team owner of an AFL franchise, member of the NFL Hall of Fame, and founder of the Buffalo Bills, gave us a team that has been the pride of Western New York for the past 54 years. The Bills remain, to this day, an economic engine for the region, generating revenue and providing jobs at a stadium that will bear Mr. Wilson’s name for years to come. From his military service during World War II, to his ownership of the Bills, Mr. Wilson left a legacy of leadership that helped keep the team in Buffalo for more than half a century. His passion for football and dedication to his community epitomized the spirit of the Buffalo Bills and their fans. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I extend my deepest condolences to his family, friends and the entire Bills organization.”

Denver Broncos:

“The Denver Broncos are very saddened by the death of Ralph Wilson. One of the founding American Football League owners, Mr. Wilson guided the Bills with great vision and passion for more than half a century. He loved the game, and his contributions to the league as Pro Football Hall of Fame owner will always be remembered.
"Mr. Wilson's presence will be missed throughout the NFL, and our thoughts are with his family and the entire Bills organization.”

Kansas City Chiefs:

“On behalf of my family and the entire Chiefs organization we’d like to express our deepest sympathies to the Wilson family and the Buffalo Bills. Ralph had a significant impact on the evolution of pro football. He took risks and made decisions that helped mold the NFL into what it is today. As two of the original members of the AFL’s Foolish Club, my father and Ralph shared a unique bond and a special friendship.

"I had the privilege of knowing Ralph and his family my entire life. His sense of humor was extraordinary and his passion for the Buffalo Bills was remarkable. He was a gentleman and a family man and will be missed dearly.”

Detroit Lions:

“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Mr. Wilson. He was a dear friend to Mr. and Mrs. Ford, the Ford Family and the Lions organization.

"Mr. Wilson truly was one of the great visionaries and caretakers of our game. He was a great Detroiter and has left a lasting legacy for the city of Buffalo and Western New York.

"We lost a tremendous leader and a true friend today, and his contributions to the NFL will endure forever.

"Our deepest sympathies and prayers go out to his family, friends and the Buffalo Bills organization.”