Amid rumors that Jon Bon Jovi, who has made no bones about his desire to own an NFL team, has targeted the Bills, team CEO Russ Brandon insisted on Wednesday that the Bills aren’t for sale.
“Mr. [Ralph] Wilson is the owner of this franchise,” Brandon told WGR radio in Buffalo, via Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. “We expect him to be the owner for many, many years.”
Define “many, many year,” Russ. Mr. Wilson, after all, is 95.
And while I hope to make it to 95 and to still own and run a business at the time, I also hope to be capable of acknowledging that, upon blowing out all but five of a 100-count box of candles, I won’t have “many, many years” left.
It’s no secret that, once the only man who ever has owned the Bills dies, his family will sell the team. The question then becomes whether the Wilson family will sell to the highest bidder regardless of whether the highest bidder would move the team to L.A. or elsewhere, or whether the Wilson family will take less from someone who would keep the team in Buffalo.
Still, Brandon apparently isn’t ready to face a reality that could arrive at his doorstep on any given day.
“Obviously it was a great way to start off my bye [week] Sunday, when I heard the news of this and listening to all of the nonsense relative to it,” Brandon told WGR. “If we had to discuss and speak to every single individual that would have interest in buying an NFL franchise, that’s all you would talk about on your show. . . .
“Anyone that is interested in buying an NFL franchise goes through the vetting process with the league,” Brandon said. “There’s a lot of interest. I know the Bon Jovi thing piqued a lot of interest. But if next week a hedge fund broker from New York City wants to buy an NFL franchise, is that a big story as well? We’re going to just keep chasing ghosts if every time someone wants to buy an NFL franchise, we get brought up and it’s a part of this discussion.”
Brandon’s frustration is understandable. At some point, the team will be sold. At that point Brandon most likely will be out of a job. While Brandon’s ability to fully focus on the present possibly hinges on his ability to delude himself into thinking he has an indefinite future in his position, he surely knows that his life will get incredibly complicated the moment Mr. Wilson’s life ends.
And when Mr. Wilson’s life ends, he should be celebrated as one of the greatest owners in the history of professional sports. His founding investment in and support of the AFL helped contribute to a merger that propelled the NFL to the position it now occupies. He’s in the Hall of Fame. He had an unwavering commitment to the city of Buffalo.
For those reasons, here’s hoping Mr. Wilson’s family will sell to someone who is truly committed to keeping the team in Buffalo, even if millions more could be made by selling it to someone who would move the franchise.