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Buffalo Bills honor team founder with life-size tribute

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 10 January 2016 at 12:00 am

Statuesque, New York – An occasional series

ORCHARD PARK – The Buffalo Bills in September unveiled a new bronze statue of Ralph Wilson next to the stadium that bears his name.

Wilson founded the team in 1959 and owned the Bills until his death in March 2014 at age 95. New team owners, Terry and Kim Pegula, wanted to honor the man who was devoted to the Bills and kept the team in Western New York.

Sculptor Jerry McKenna created the tribute to Wilson, which is based on a sideline photo of Wilson in 1990, the first year of the team’s glorious run when the Bills had four straight trips to the Super Bowl.

The statue of Wilson is part of a Founder’s Plaza tribute that debuted at the stadium early in the 2015 season. Fans can pose with Wilson and shake his hand. The statue stands 5 feet, 11 inches.

Wilson is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He had the fans and community of Western New York and his native Detriot in his heart. After his death, the team sold for $1.4 billion and more than $1 billion of that sale was directed to Wilson’s charitable foundation to benefit causes in the Buffalo and Detroit areas for many years to come.

Regardless to how the Bills do on game day, fans can connect with the team founder near Gate Five and the team store along Abbott Road.

The Bills say the statue is meant to be a pre-game gathering point.

“I think it’s perfect, just absolutely perfect, for our fans and for our organization, and for everyone that knew Ralph,” Bills President Russ Brandon told reporters after the unveiling on Sept. 12. “Because that is Ralph, as far as how he was and how engaging he was with everyone.”