Friday, December 4, 2015

1976 Profile: Ralph Wilson

President and Owner
"The face of modern professional football has been shaped by men like Ralph C. Wilson, Jr., only owner of the Buffalo Bills since their induction as an original member of the American Football League in 1960.
A sports interest that dated from boyhood stimulated Wilson to first purchase a minority interest in the NFL Detroit Lions and later to join ranks with Lamar Hunt and the other principals of the new AFL. The youthful owner chose Buffalo as the home for his fledgling franchise on October 17, 1959, and six weeks later named it the 'Bills.'
In the 17 years that have passed since, professional football has enjoyed explosive popularity and expansion, completed a major merger and been beset by labor strife. Ralph Wilson has remained involved.
It was Wilson and Carroll Rosenbloom, then owner of the Baltimore Colts, who had the first tentative talks in January 1965 that would ultimately lead to the AFL-NFL merger. A past president of the AFL, Wilson served as a member of the expansion committee and the AFL-NFL Negotiations Committee.
The Bills owner presently serves on the prestigious NFL Labor Committee, and has been continuously involved in bargaining talks with the NFL Players Association.
A resident of Detroit since moving there with his family as a youngster, Wilson won his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia and later attended the University of Michigan law school. He enlisted in the Navy during World War II, earning his commission within a year and serving aboard minesweepers in both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres.
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 and 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. 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.
Wilson's contribution to the game was recognized by the weekly publication Football News, which named him Man of the Year in 1973.
'He has been a tower of strength in the administration of professional football,' the newspaper said."

-Buffalo Bills 1976 Yearbook

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