Recently, my 16-year-old daughter, Laura, and I went to Rich Stadium so she could obtain some players' autographs before the start of the morning session of the Buffalo Bills minicamp. Everyone attending received a 1989 minicamp roster with the reverse side being reserved for players' autographs. When practice began, she returned to her seat knowing she had been quite successful in having a number of players sign her sheet.
She noticed, at the end of the morning session, some players remained on the field to continue signing autographs so she, too, joined the group of fans. At that point, I noticed Ralph Wilson Jr. also was on the field, so I went out and showed him my blank autograph sheet.
I told him I only collect bosses' autographs and would he sign mine? I thanked him when he returned the sheet and he said, "Thanks for asking me. To think, just a couple years ago, the fans use to throw these things at me; now I'm asked to sign them. I like it better this way."
I have attended a number of events in the past where he was asked to say a few words and, in this writer's opinion, this out-of-town multimillionaire comes on in public as being a decent, easy-going, down-to-earth, God-fearing, blue-collar, meat-and-potatoes, everyday type of individual who possesses a pretty good sense of humor. Was he always like this? I don't know. Is it possible through these many years, the fans have molded the owner to their image? Could be.
All I know is the thousands of fans in attendance at that morning's free minicamp session, holding their free minicamp rosters in their hands, watching this year's edition of the Buffalo Bills going through their maneuvers, can thank one person for this, a gentlemen by the name of Ralph Wilson Jr.
NORMAN J. GOETTELMAN