Ralph Wilson Jr. honored in emotional pregame ceremony

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At a pregame ceremony on the field at an electric Ralph Wilson Stadium, moments before the first kickoff at Ralph Wilson Stadium following Ralph Wilson, Jr.'s passing, the Bills founding owner was honored.

Bills controlling owner Mary Wilson, the widow of Ralph Wilson, Jr., was flanked by Jim Kelly, Andre Reed, Thurman Thomas and a number of other Bills Wall of Famers at midfield.

"Mr. Wilson was a true gentleman in every sense of the word," said Murphy. "He was a man of high ideals who set a high standard for himself and those he worked with.  Today, on behalf of the Buffalo Bills, we would like to forever honor his legacy by turning the letters of his name gold on the prestigious wall of fame, a symbol of the standard he set for all of us."

Though his name had been on the Wall of Fame since his induction in 1989, it was a surprise to many including Mary Wilson when it was revealed in gold, in its home centered prominently below the main video board.

But in what was a surprise to nobody in the house, as Jim Kelly took the mic to speak about the Wilson family, the crowd erupted, giving the beloved Bills quarterback a standing ovation that lasted several.

"He was like a father figure to us," said Kelly from a podium at midfield. "And we will forever miss him."

As a symbol of the countless contributions she has made over the years to the Buffalo Bills organization and the Western New York community, Kelly and Hall of Famer Thurman Thomas presented Mary Wilson with an honorary Wall of Fame ring.

On what is certainly an emotional day for the Wilson family, the crowd erupted yet again, giving Mary Wilson a long, heartfelt ovation, echoing Kelly's words and the thoughts of so many Bills fans in Western New York and around the world.

A private tribute to Ralph C. Wilson, Jr.'s life and legacy was held for guests from far and wide at Shea's Performing Arts Center on Friday, September 12, two days before the home opener.

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