President and Owner
"Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., only owner of the Buffalo Bills since their induction as one of the original members of the American Football League in 1960, was honored at the conclusion of the 1973 season by the Football News.
A weekly publication of national circulation, Football News named Wilson as Man of the Year. The newspaper said:
'Ralph Wilson's brilliant decisions kept his team in Buffalo, changed it from a loser to a winner, built a new stadium when the project looked impossible, led the NFL in actual attendance and made pro football's number one star happy to play for Buffalo. He has been a tower of strength in the administration of professional football.'
Previous winners of the award, which been had presented annually since 1969, were: Roone Arledge, sports chief of ABC Television; Jim Finks, general manager of the Minnesota Vikings; Joe Robbie, owner of the Miami Dolphins, and Dan Devine, head coach and general manager of the Green Bay Packers.
Wilson has been a resident of Detroit since moving there with his family as a youngster. He attended the University of Virginia as an undergraduate and was on active duty as a Naval officer during World War II, serving on minesweepers in the Pacific theatre.
Among many business pursuits, Wilson is president of the Ralph C. Wilson Insurance Agency and Motorcar, an auto transport business. His interest in sports, however, extends beyond football. He owns a stable of thoroughbred race horses, among them the recently successful 'West Coast Scout.' Wilson is an avid tennis player, skier and golfer.
From the inception of the Bills, Wilson has played a dynamic and active role in the organization. In an article prepared for the Sporting News, Milt Woodard, one-time Commissioner of the AFL, said of Wilson and the other AFL franchise founders:
'... every original AFL owner or his successor kept struggling against the odds. Whereas there were a few perennial losers ... during the earlier years, none threw in the towel. Nor, when a club was in trouble, did it fail to get help.'
With Lamar Hunt, owner of the Kansas City Chiefs, Wilson worked diligently to bring about the AFL-NFL merger, finally achieved in 1966. Since then, he has been a viable force in the National Football League, serving as a member of the prestigious labor committee.
He is determined in his effort to bring two things- 'winning football and a Super Bowl trophy'- to the NFL faithful of Western New York."
-Buffalo Bills 1974 Yearbook