On the first Sunday since the team was founded that Ralph Wilson Jr. didn’t own the Buffalo Bills, fans arrived by the hundreds to tailgate in his honor.
Jonathan D. Epstein of the Buffalo News explains that fans showed up despite snow to convene in a muddy parking lot to remember the franchise’s only owner, who died last week at 95.
“This was a great way to come out and celebrate the man who brought us the Bills,” Katheryn Lanigan of Buffalo said. “He’d want us to be out here celebrating, and not mourning him.”
Team CEO Russ Brandon unexpectedly showed up at the gathering to thank the fans.
“I never get to tailgate,” he said. “I love this.”
Brandon also had an Adrian Balboa-style message for the crowd.
“I worked for Mr. Wilson for 18 years, and what he loved the most was the fans and their passion,” Brandon said “Many people have asked how they can honor him. How can we honor him? One word. Win!”
That also could be the best way to keep the team in town. Which hopefully will happen. At a time when business considerations loom over every decision made in the NFL, a very wise business decision for the NFL will be to keep a franchise in Buffalo for as long as the NFL exists.
Even if a new owner wants to move the team, a move can only happen if 24 total owners allow it to happen. For Buffalo and for the memory of Ralph Wilson, here’s hoping at least nine owners will always be willing to vote no to a move.