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NHL Winter Classic in Buffalo
Fans walk into the Ralph Wilson Stadium to watch the NHL Winter Classic at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York on January 1, 2008. The Penguins defeated The Sabres 2-1 in an overtime shootout. (UPI Photo/Jerome Davis)
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Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. (October 17, 1918, in Columbus, Ohio) is the founder, owner and president of NFL's Buffalo Bills. He was one of the founding owners of the American Football League, the league that the NFL merged with in 1970. He is the oldest owner in the National Football League, at age 92. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on August 8, 2009.

Wilson grew up in Detroit, Michigan, graduated from the University of Virginia and attended the University of Michigan Law School. At the University of Virginia he joined the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. He is a World War II veteran. After the war ended, he took over the successful insurance business of his father and invested in Michigan area mines and factories. He eventually purchased several manufacturing outlets, construction firms, and radio stations, and founded Ralph Wilson Industries.

A minority owner of the Detroit Lions, Wilson got wind of Lamar Hunt's plans for a new league, the American Football League, to challenge the NFL. He tried to put together a team in Miami, but was turned down. His next choice was Buffalo. In September 1959, Wilson sent Hunt a telegram with the words, "Count me in with Buffalo." He named his new team the Bills, after a previous team that had played in the All-America Football Conference from 1946 to 1949. On October 28, 1959 the Buffalo Bills officially became the seventh AFL team. Wilson made Professional Football a resounding success in a "small market," signing such stars as Cookie Gilchrist, Jack Kemp, and Tom Sestak and Hall of Famer Billy Shaw.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ralph Wilson."
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