Share this article

print logo

Let's wish for long life for Ralph

So Ralph C. Wilson Jr. isn't selling the Buffalo Bills while he's alive. He basically is saying he and the Buffalo Bills are married, until death do they part.

Here's hoping it's a much longer marriage.

If it wasn't clear before, it should be obvious to everyone now that the team's future here could be tied to the 88-year-old owner's longevity.

Since he has no plans to give the Bills to a family member or sell part of the franchise to someone else, the Bills will, in effect, become a free agent, eligible to the highest bidder, when Wilson passes away.

Wilson turned a $25,000 investment into a $600 million commodity that will be very attractive to prospective buyers.

What is unnerving for Bills fans is there's no guarantee the next owner will keep the team here.

Some people in this town believe Wilson is being selfish. By not establishing a successor, critics say he is turning his back on a community that has devoted its time, money and emotional energy into the franchise for the past 47 years.

In my opinion, Wilson should be praised for working so hard to keep the team in Western New York as long as he has.

Since he bought the Bills in 1960, six franchises -- the Raiders (twice), Browns, Colts, Rams and Cardinals -- have moved to different cities. The Bills are still here, and Buffalonians have Wilson to thank for that.

I don't begrudge Wilson for selling the team after his death. It's his right. Besides, he doesn't want to put the burden of running the franchise on his family.

Wilson has opened himself up for criticism by not selling part of the team now. That way, at least someone will be in place when Wilson is gone.

But any new co-owner is going to want to have a say in the operation of the franchise. Wilson, who prefers having absolute power, would never go for that.

In the event of Wilson's death, Buffalo has to hope for a white knight (Tom Golisano, perhaps?) to ride onto the scene and save the day.

If someone doesn't step up, who knows what will happen?

I've heard a suggestion that the local government could take over the team, which is preposterous. The government has better things to deal with.

Someone mentioned to me that maybe the Bills should become publicly owned like the Green Bay Packers. I'm not sure that's realistic, either.

Perhaps NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, a Western New York native, would be an advocate for Buffalo and convince the next owner to stay in town. Don't count on it. Goodell answers to the owners, and many of them, especially large-market big shots such as Daniel Snyder of the Washington Redskins and Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys, don't care about the Bills. They're only concerned with one thing -- profits.

If anyone has thoughts of the Bills being sold for a "hometown discount," forget about it because it's in the best interest of the Snyders and Joneses of the NFL to have every franchise sold at maximum value.

So if someone bought the Bills and decided to move them to a city that will generate more revenue for the other teams, the owners won't stand in the way.

Fortunately, we don't have to worry about that right now. Wilson is alive and doing quite well.

Let's hope he stays that way for a long time.

The future of the Bills in Buffalo might depend on it.

e-mail: awilson@buffnews.com

There are no comments - be the first to comment