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This Birthday in Buffalo Sports History: Ralph Wilson

(Born October 17, 1918) -- There’s no doubt about it - the life of Ralph Wilson has been a long and eventful one.

Wilson grew up in Detroit and went to the University of Virginia and the University of Michigan law school. After serving in World War II, Wilson took over his father’s insurance business and invested in several other industries.  Obviously, he did well.

In the late 1950s, Wilson heard about a plan to start a new football league. His first choice for a team was Miami, but that didn’t work. Plan B was Buffalo, and the Bills opened for business in 1960. He’s been here ever since.

Wilson was a powerful voice in the American Football League. He loaned money to keep the Oakland Raiders alive, and successfully lobbied for the AFL not to play on the Sunday after President Kennedy’s assassination.

Wilson has been part of football for more than 50 years now. He was honored for his body of work in 2009 when he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

--- Budd Bailey


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About Sports, Ink

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey

Budd Bailey has served in a variety of roles in Buffalo sports in the past 35 years, including reporter, talk-show host, baseball announcer, public relations staffer and author. He covers the Bandits and running for The News when not working as an editor.