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Roger Goodell focuses on mourning Ralph Wilson, but acknowledges 'we have to find a long-term solution' for Bills

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Ralph Wilson's death has elicited many emotions from Buffalo Bills fans: grief for the loss, sentimentality over what he's done and even anxiety over what will happen next.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell reflected on Wilson this morning at a news conference to conclude the annual owners meetings, an event Wilson relished.

"He was a special owner," Goodell said. "I know how much he did for the Western New York region, and I also know what he's done for the NFL, having seen it first hand.

"As a commissioner, he was a great owner. He was principled. He was strong. He understood when to compromise."

Wilson died Tuesday at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. He was 95.

Goodell is keenly aware Western New Yorkers are nervous about the Bills' future. He has deep WNY roots. He was born in Jamestown and has spent significant time on Chautauqua Lake. His mother came from Buffalo.

"I haven't focused on that," Goodell said of what will happen to the Bills next. "Obviously, my thoughts and my heart are with the Wilson family. That's not something I have spent any time on in recent days.

"We all know they have a lease. We know the terms of that lease, and we also know we have to find a long-term solution to keep the Bills there. That's what we're going to continue to work to do, but that's not our priority now in the next few days."

Goodell spoke with Wilson's widow, Mary, on Tuesday night and said he will attend Wilson's funeral. Arrangements have not been announced.

"He's going to be missed by the NFL and by me personally," Goodell said. "He's someone who deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and he has really done incredible things for the league, for pro football in general.

"That's something that will be a great legacy for him."

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