Remembering Ralph Wilson
Ralph Wilson Jr. died today at the age of 95. I’m not in the habit of whitewashing people in death, not even my own family. I hope that same courtesy gets extended to me when I move on. I am a human being, not a fantasy of the living. That said, there are certainly some nice things to be remembered about Wilson. Almost all of them happened before I was born, and before many of our readers were too.
Ralph Wilson begrudgingly helped make the Bills after having been a minority owner in Detroit and making a first attempt at Miami. Still, he was a steward of the fledgling AFL and a steward of its Buffalo franchise and he helped the team stay in Buffalo over the years when little else did. He was a part of the most success the city of Buffalo has ever seen in professional football in the 1990s, somewhat similar to Golisano with the 1999 and 2005-2007 Sabres.
And like Golisano, he was a part of dismantling that success.
That will always be Ralph’s legacy to me. He was a man, in his firing of Bill Polian, who couldn’t get out of his own way. He couldn’t handle not being the smartest person in the room, couldn’t handle not being the reason for success. He also, in his later years, failed to secure the franchise’s long term position in Buffalo. That should resonate louder than most things.
Ralph Wilson made us, that much is true. But we may soon find that he unmade us as well.