Buffalo Bills Owner Ralph Wilson Dies At 95, Was Founding AFL Father

The Buffalo Bills announced Tuesday that team owner Ralph Wilson has died. He was 95 years old.

Wilson, the last of the original AFL owners, founded the Bills in 1959 for the start of the league. The Bills moved to the NFL when it merged with the AFL in 1970.

Wilson was voted to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009. His Bills were AFL champions in 1964 and 1965, and they won the AFC Championship Game four consecutive times, from 1990 to 1993, under Wilson.

The Bills’ stadium in Orchard Park, N.Y., is named after Wilson, who was the longest-tenured NFL owner.

Patriots owner Robert Kraft shared his memories of Wilson with NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport:

Kraft later issued this statement through the Patriots: “I would like to extend my sincerest sympathies to Ralph’s wife, Mary, his daughters and his extended family, including every coach, player, staff member and fan of the Buffalo Bills who are mourning his loss today. 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.”

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