Since team president Russ Brandon announced the passing of Buffalo Bills owner Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., reactions have been coming in from around the football world. When words failed so many of us, those who have worked with and for Mr. Wilson over the years shared their thoughts. Here is just a sampling of the stories being told today.
"Mr. Wilson had a relentless passion, a deep love for his Buffalo Bills, the City of Buffalo and the National Football League," read just a small portion of the team's official statement. "He also loved the Bills fans and all of the people of Western New York who embraced the Bills."
"As a trusted advisor to his fellow league owners and the commissioner, Ralph always brought a principled and common-sense approach to issues," said a portion of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell's statement.
"Count me in with Buffalo" -- telegram sent by Ralph Wilson to Lamar Hunt in 1959 that, with $25,000, gave him the Bills— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) March 25, 2014
When my dad passed, Mr. Wilson 1of 1st to send flowers. He donated 2 tickets to every #Bills game in my dad's name to Boys&Girls Club— Luke Russert (@LukeRussert) March 25, 2014
Ralph Wilson called #Bills CEO Russ Brandon four days ago about a safety prospect he believed was a 3rd or 4th rounder. Amazing.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 25, 2014
In a somber moment at league meetings, Commissioner Goodell asked everyone but the principal owners to leave and delivered the news.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 25, 2014
Talley said that - He never closed the windows - about Wilson in his suite, watching games, no matter the weather. I like it as a metaphor.— Mike Schopp (@Schopptalk) March 25, 2014
Ralph Wilson is the only owner who ever wrote me a letter to thank me for a piece I wrote on him.— daniel kaplan (@dkaplanSBJ) March 25, 2014
When I worked for Bills radio, I was always struck by the profound respect people had for Ralph. No one called him that. It was "Mr.Wilson"— Brent Axe (@BrentAxeMedia) March 25, 2014
One of my favorite Ralph memories: Super Bowl 27, big party in LA. Watching Ralph dance and party with his daughters was amazing.— Sal Maiorana (@salmaiorana) March 25, 2014
Another great remembrance for me. When I wrote first Bills book, Relentless, sat in Ralph's office for hours listening to great AFL stories— Sal Maiorana (@salmaiorana) March 25, 2014
The Bills have lowered their flags to half-mast outside their facility in Orchard Park. pic.twitter.com/sjQDiLD5Fk— Mike Rodak (@mikerodak) March 25, 2014
Cool Ralph moment for me: outside locker room after 1st AFC Champ getting hugs from every player coming off field. Bruce lifted him up.— Paul Peck (@PeckOnSports) March 25, 2014
Fond memories of Ralph Wilson from my start here in 1997... giving lengthy interview to a newcomer at Fredonia on the new lease at the time.— Adam Benigni (@AdamBenigni) March 25, 2014
I remember his passion in the fight for revenue sharing... "Run myself ragged to try to help Buffalo stay alive."— Adam Benigni (@AdamBenigni) March 25, 2014
John Mara on Ralph Wilson: "He's just a warm, gregarious, generous guy that I think all of us are going to miss."— Manish Mehta (@MMehtaNYDN) March 25, 2014
RIP Ralph Wilson, owner of Bills and voice in the wilderness voting against the 2006 CBA w/players. Soon after all owners joined him.— Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt) March 25, 2014
oddly enough, when I started thinking about Mr. Wilson, one memory that came to mind was a chocolate ftbl media members would get at xmas— howard (@hsimon62) March 25, 2014
My dad and Linda Wilson grew up together in Grosse Pointe, MI, and trips to Bills camp when I was a kid played a role in my love of the NFL.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 25, 2014
Always enjoyed chats with Ralph Wilson at NFL meetings. Direct, plain spoken, with occasional salty language, but you knew where he stood.— Don Banks (@DonBanks) March 25, 2014
Ralph Wilson made annual trip to Canton to be a part of HOF Weekend. He LOVED the GAME!— Pro Football HOF (@ProFootballHOF) March 25, 2014
"The most towering figure in Buffalo sports history is gone," said Buffalo News scribe Jerry Sullivan in his column. What more needs to be said?