Quotes on death of Bills owner Ralph Wilson

Reaction on the death Tuesday of Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson:

”He wasn’t my boss, he was my friend. A magnificent guy to work with. Deeply saddened to hear about his passing. He meant so much to the game that both of us revered, and to the community of Buffalo and beyond. It’s quite a loss, and he’s going to be remembered so fondly by everyone who knew him.” – Marv Levy, Bills Hall of Fame coach.

”Ralph Wilson was a driving force in developing pro football into America’s most popular sport. He loved the game and took a chance on a startup league in 1960 as a founding owner of the American Football League. He brought his beloved Bills to western New York, and his commitment to the team’s role in the community set the standard for the NFL. As a trusted adviser to his fellow league owners and the commissioner, Ralph always brought a principled and common-sense approach to issues.” – NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

”I was truly blessed to be around Mr. Wilson during the glory days. … To have him in the locker room after a game, to see the excitement but also on the other side to see the disappointment of never winning a championship, but also coming into the locker room after big games, after Super Bowls, and always hearing him remind players, each one, that we wouldn’t have got here without you. … So I’m going to miss him, without a doubt. He used to call me his favorite son.” – Thurman Thomas, Bills Hall of Fame running back.

”As two of the original members of the AFL’s Foolish Club, my father and Ralph shared a unique bond and special friendship. I had the privilege of knowing Ralph and his family my entire life. His sense of humor was extraordinary, and his passion for the Buffalo Bills was remarkable.” – Clark Hunt, Kansas City Chiefs chairman.

”Mr. Wilson truly was one of the great visionaries and caretakers of our game. He was a great Detroiter and has left a lasting legacy for the city of Buffalo and western New York. We lost a tremendous leader and a true friend today, and his contributions to the NFL will endure forever.” – Tom Lewand, Detroit Lions president.

”On behalf of the entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family, we extend our deepest condolences to Ralph’s wife Mary Wilson, the Bills community of fans, and all who love the game of football on the loss of such a great man, and a Hall-of-Famer for the ages.” – David Baker, Pro Football Hall of Fame president.

”Ralph Wilson Jr. was cut from the same cloth as Lamar Hunt, a man I worked for in Kansas City for nearly 20 years. The historic AFL-NFL merger that these men brought to fruition more than 50 years ago helped make the NFL the pinnacle of sports that it is today, capturing our imaginations like little else.” – Carl Peterson, USA Football Chairman.

”Ralph Wilson was a founder of our game, one of the cornerstones of the AFL, and a great American sportsman. He had a tremendous competitive spirit, and his contributions to professional football were very meaningful and significant.” – Jerry Jones, Dallas Cowboys owner.

”It’s the end of a real important era. Ralph was so important in developing football into what it is today. He was the NFL. He was the AFL. He was always a guy that was up to the task.” – Woody Johnson, New York Jets owner.

”As one of the founding fathers of the AFL, Ralph deserves a lot of credit for taking that initial risk and for the many contributions he made to the NFL over the past 54 years. He built a franchise that the Buffalo community loves and embraces. Personally, I will always be grateful for how he welcomed me when I first entered the league. He was always a gracious host and I will never forget that. I will miss him.” – Robert Kraft, New England Patriots chairman and CEO.

”Ralph was remarkably warm and helpful to me as I knocked on doors to explore ownership in the NFL. Given his legacy as a builder and visionary, I imagine Ralph was able to relate to my dream to one day join him as a team owner. I’ll never forget his kindness to me, and will always treasure the letter he wrote welcoming my family to the NFL in 2011.” – Shahid Khan, Jacksonville Jaguars owner.

”As the last surviving NFL member of the `Foolish Club,’ Ralph Wilson helped grow the game in new territories and in new ways and his passing concludes a terrific success story. Our two franchises have shared many moments in football history and Bud (Adams) was proud to see Ralph Wilson enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame in the 50th anniversary of the AFL.” – Tommy Smith, Titans CEO/president.

”He’s our leader, our mentor, our friend. How he loved his players and loved our community. Special guy. They don’t make them like Ralph Wilson. They just don’t.” – Russ Brandon, Buffalo Bills president.

”I’m eternally grateful to Mr. Wilson for giving me the opportunity to become a general manager, and giving Marv and I the opportunity to build a great football team. And I know for a fact during the course of my tenure with the Bills that he had opportunities to entertain offers to move the franchise to places that would have been more lucrative. But he gave his word, and like everything else he did in his life, he kept his word when he said that the Bills would never leave western New York in his lifetime.” – Bill Polian, Bills former general manager.

”For those of us that played for him and knew him, we were hoping this day would never come. And I’m sad, I’m broken-hearted over it because he’s a guy that I not only had a lot of affection for personally, but I had a lot of respect for him. I owe a lot of my success professionally and personally to him and this organization, and I never forgot that and I never will.” – Steve Tasker, former Bills receiver-turned-broadcaster.

”His contributions to the city of Buffalo over his 50-plus years of owning the Bills were immeasurable, and his legacy in western New York and the sports world will be long-lasting. With his passion for the game and never-ending loyalty to the great fans of Buffalo, he embodied what owners in sports strive to be.” – Terry and Kim Pegula, Buffalo Sabres co-owners.

”Ralph Wilson loved the (at)buffalobills & WNY with every fiber of his being. The legacy of my dear friend will reverberate for generations.” – U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer on Twitter.

”The Bills remain, to this day, an economic engine for the region, generating revenue and providing jobs at a stadium that will bear Mr. Wilson’s name for years to come. … His passion for football and dedication to his community is epitomized the spirit of the Buffalo Bills and their fans.” – New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.