TRIBUTE VIDEO: Ralph Wilson Says “I Had 5 Cities To Choose From…And I Chose Buffalo”
Think about this for a second.
Without Ralph Wilson, who knows if there would be any NFL football in Buffalo.
Now, imagine Buffalo with no football.
It’s part of our lives, our culture. It’s our hobby, it’s something we love, and it’s a game we Buffalonians dedicate every Sunday starting in the fall too. We owe a big thanks to Ralph Wilson for instating that love into every one of us in Western New York. When he was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame back in 2009, he explained exactly how he got the Bills to Buffalo.
I always wanted to own a football team so I’d have a little something to say about it. And let me tell you how I got into professional football. In the fall of 1959, I read in the paper where a young champ named Lamar Hunt and Bud Adams were starting a new professional football league. Lamar lived in Dallas, and he couldn’t get an expansion franchise from the NFL. So I decided to start my own league. I happened to have a winter home in Miami, which was one of the prospective sites that I read in the paper. So I called Lamar and told him of my interest. And he said, well, if you’re interested, you better get down here right away, because there are other people that are likewise interested. So I flew down the next day, and he granted me the Miami franchise. And we both went down to talk to the city fathers, and see if we could lease the Orange Bowl. It was the only place to play football in those days. The city fathers would not let a new league lease the Orange Bowl, because they had a bad time with another new league that came before us. So I flew home and forgot about it.
About four or five days later I got a call from Lamar, and he said, Ralph, we need an eighth franchise to balance out this new league. One from the east and one from the west. And I’ll give you your choice of five different cities where you can place your franchise. And I picked Buffalo. It was a lucky pick, because over the years, they have supported the team in Buffalo beyond our fondest dreams. And without the support, I wouldn’t be on this platform tonight.