Ralph Wilson Creates Buffalo Bills, Becomes AFL Franchise


In the NFL, a franchise’s legacy is important. On October 28, 1959, Ralph C. Wilson Jr., Virginia ’40, made history as Buffalo’s principal owner of the professional football team.

Under Wilson’s leadership, Buffalo became the seventh American Football League (AFL) franchise. An astute businessman from Detroit, Wilson was a vital member of the ‘Foolish Club,’ which helped create the AFL. Naming his newly awarded football team the ‘Buffalo Bills,’ on November 30, 1959, Wilson would forever leave a mark on the Western New York community and professional football.