ORLANDO, FLA. - Ralph C. Wilson Jr., founding owner of the Buffalo Bills and one of the most unswayable yet respected leaders in NFL history, died Tuesday at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich.
He was 95. A cause of death was not immediately disclosed.
Inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2009, Wilson had been in poor health for several years. Using a wheelchair since breaking a hip in 2012, he had attended only one Bills game over the past two seasons.
For 54 years Wilson was one of the most passionate, football-loving, down-to-earth owners in the game -- throughout the existence of the American Football League, and since 1970 in the NFL.
Wilson played an integral role in the merger of the two pro leagues, which in the early and mid 1960s had despised one another.
Neither born nor raised in the Buffalo area, and never even a Buffalo resident, the Detroit-based Wilson was fiercely loyal to Western New York. He always vowed that the Bills franchise would remain in Buffalo as long as he lived, and proved true to his word.
In turn, most Buffalonians loved him for it.