American Football League co-founder and owner of the Buffalo Bills, Ralph Wilson, died in his home on Tuesday.
The official announcement was made by Russ Brandon, the Buffalo Bills’ president, during the yearly National Football League owners’ meeting held in Orlando, Florida. Wilson said that when he died, he wanted his co-owners to learn of the news first. The group observed a moment of silence after the announcement was made.
At 95 years old, Wilson was the oldest team owner in the National Football League. He also held the record for the longest tenure at 54 years. In 2009, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Wilson died at about 1:40 p.m. in his Grosse Pointe Shores home in Michigan where he had been getting home hospice care.
After learning of Wilson’s passing, Brandon said that the death is tough for him to handle. “I worked for him for 18 years and talked to him every day for 18 years – sometimes multiple times a day.”
Before his death, Wilson said that his family had no interest in running the Buffalo Bills after he dies, and that the team will be sold. In a statement, Brandon said that they are in a midst of tremendous loss, and plans regarding the team’s ownership will be discussed in the near future.
Many of the members of Buffalo Bills paid their respects to Wilson.
C.J. Spiller, the team’s running back said that Wilson was a great leader. “I will not let you down, Mr. Wilson. May God be with you and your family always,” he said.
Stevie Johnson, the team’s wide receiver, expressed his grief through Twitter saying that he is forever indebted to Wilson for everything he has done for his family.
Marv Levy, Buffalo Bills’ Hall of Famer coach, said, “He wasn’t my boss, he was my friend.”
Wilson is survived by his wife, Mary, and two daughters named Edith and Christy.
— NFL (@nfl) March 25, 2014
NFL owners reflect on Ralph Wilson
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