Buffalo-heavy crowd welcomes Wilson

CANTON, Ohio — Fitting that the oldest member of the Class of 2009, Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr., was first up for enshrinement at Saturday night’s Pro Football Hall of Fame ceremony.

The 90-year-old Wilson recalled in his enshrinement speech that he attended his first NFL game in 1935 — a Bears-Lions game. (For the record, it was Nov. 28, and the Lions won, 14-2.)

Wilson spoke fondly of the Bills’ great moments from the AFL, as well as their great teams of the ’90s. When Wilson looked to buy an AFL team before the league started in 1960, he originally was going to get a Miami franchise. But fate landed him in Buffalo and it was clear from the fans’ reaction here at Fawcett Stadium that Buffalonians love their team’s owner. And the feeling is mutual.

“It’s been a grand ride for me and tonight is the high point,” Wilson said.

Not bad for man who never played football himself.

“I played tennis,” Wilson said. “Because in tennis, when you go back to serve, you don’t have to worry about the rush of Bruce Smith. And you go home without any bruises and (with) clean clothes.”

— Craig Ellenport

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