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Bills owner and founder Ralph Wilson dies at 95

  • FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2009, file photo, Buffalo Bills' owner Ralph Wilson Jr. holds up his Hall of Fame ring during a halftime NFL football ceremony against the Houston Texans in Orchard Park, N.Y. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95. NFL.com says team president Russ Brandon announced his death at the league's annual meeting. (AP Photo/Dean Duprey, File)

    FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2009, file photo, Buffalo Bills' owner Ralph Wilson Jr. holds up his Hall of Fame ring during a halftime NFL football ceremony against the Houston Texans in Orchard Park, N.Y. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95. NFL.com says team president Russ Brandon announced his death at the league's annual meeting. (AP Photo/Dean Duprey, File)

  • FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2009, file photo Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson gestures during a news conference in Tampa, Fla. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95 at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. Bills president Russ Brandon made the announcement at the NFL winter meetings in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Wilson Jr. was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

    FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2009, file photo Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson gestures during a news conference in Tampa, Fla. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95 at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. Bills president Russ Brandon made the announcement at the NFL winter meetings in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Wilson Jr. was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

  • FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2009, file photo, Ralph Wilson Jr., fourth from left, owner of the Buffalo Bills, poses with his bust and former Buffalo Bills players, from left, Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, Marv Levy, Joe DeLamielleure, James Lofton, Billy Shaw and Jim Kelly during the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95 at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. NFL.com says team president Russ Brandon announced his death at the league's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. He was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

    FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2009, file photo, Ralph Wilson Jr., fourth from left, owner of the Buffalo Bills, poses with his bust and former Buffalo Bills players, from left, Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, Marv Levy, Joe DeLamielleure, James Lofton, Billy Shaw and Jim Kelly during the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95 at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. NFL.com says team president Russ Brandon announced his death at the league's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. He was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

  • FILE - In this April 1966, file photo, Al Davis, right, the head coach-general manager of the Oakland Raiders, was named the new American Football League Commissioner in Houston by Ralph Wilson, left, President of the AFL and owner of the Buffalo Bills. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95. NFL.com says team president Russ Brandon announced his death at the league's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. He was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/Ed Kolenovsky, File)

    FILE - In this April 1966, file photo, Al Davis, right, the head coach-general manager of the Oakland Raiders, was named the new American Football League Commissioner in Houston by Ralph Wilson, left, President of the AFL and owner of the Buffalo Bills. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95. NFL.com says team president Russ Brandon announced his death at the league's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. He was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/Ed Kolenovsky, File)

  • FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2011, file photo, former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, left, poses for a photo with Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr., right, before an NFL football game against the New York Jets in Orchard Park, N.Y. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95 at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. Bills president Russ Brandon made the announcement at the NFL winter meetings in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Wilson Jr. was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/David Duprey, File)

    FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2011, file photo, former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, left, poses for a photo with Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr., right, before an NFL football game against the New York Jets in Orchard Park, N.Y. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95 at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. Bills president Russ Brandon made the announcement at the NFL winter meetings in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Wilson Jr. was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/David Duprey, File)

  • FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2009, file photo, Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. celebrates his Hall of Fame induction at a half-time ceremony during the NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Orchard Park, N.Y. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95. NFL.com says team president Russ Brandon announced his death at the league's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. He was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/Don Heupel, File)

    FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2009, file photo, Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. celebrates his Hall of Fame induction at a half-time ceremony during the NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Orchard Park, N.Y. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95. NFL.com says team president Russ Brandon announced his death at the league's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. He was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/Don Heupel, File)

  • FILE - This March 2, 2006, file photo shows Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson arriving for a meeting with NFL owners and commissioner Paul Tagliabue at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95. NFL.com says team president Russ Brandon announced his death at the league's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. He was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano, File)

    FILE - This March 2, 2006, file photo shows Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson arriving for a meeting with NFL owners and commissioner Paul Tagliabue at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95. NFL.com says team president Russ Brandon announced his death at the league's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. He was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano, File)

  • FILE - In this July 26, 1972, file photo, Ralph Wilson, owner of the Buffalo Bills football team, listens to a question as he appeared before the House Select Committee on Crime in Washington. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95. NFL.com says team president Russ Brandon announced his death at the league's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Gorry, File)

    FILE - In this July 26, 1972, file photo, Ralph Wilson, owner of the Buffalo Bills football team, listens to a question as he appeared before the House Select Committee on Crime in Washington. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95. NFL.com says team president Russ Brandon announced his death at the league's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Gorry, File)

  • FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2009, file photo Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson gestures during a news conference in Tampa, Fla. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95 at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. Bills president Russ Brandon made the announcement at the NFL winter meetings in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Wilson Jr. was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

    FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2009, file photo Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson gestures during a news conference in Tampa, Fla. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95 at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. Bills president Russ Brandon made the announcement at the NFL winter meetings in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Wilson Jr. was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

  • FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2009, file photo, Buffalo Bills' owner Ralph Wilson Jr. holds up his Hall of Fame ring during a halftime NFL football ceremony against the Houston Texans in Orchard Park, N.Y. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95. NFL.com says team president Russ Brandon announced his death at the league's annual meeting. (AP Photo/Dean Duprey, File)
  • FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2009, file photo Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson gestures during a news conference in Tampa, Fla. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95 at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. Bills president Russ Brandon made the announcement at the NFL winter meetings in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Wilson Jr. was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)
  • FILE - In this Aug. 8, 2009, file photo, Ralph Wilson Jr., fourth from left, owner of the Buffalo Bills, poses with his bust and former Buffalo Bills players, from left, Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, Marv Levy, Joe DeLamielleure, James Lofton, Billy Shaw and Jim Kelly during the Pro Football Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95 at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. NFL.com says team president Russ Brandon announced his death at the league's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. He was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)
  • FILE - In this April 1966, file photo, Al Davis, right, the head coach-general manager of the Oakland Raiders, was named the new American Football League Commissioner in Houston by Ralph Wilson, left, President of the AFL and owner of the Buffalo Bills. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95. NFL.com says team president Russ Brandon announced his death at the league's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. He was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/Ed Kolenovsky, File)
  • FILE - In this Nov. 6, 2011, file photo, former Buffalo Bills quarterback Jim Kelly, left, poses for a photo with Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr., right, before an NFL football game against the New York Jets in Orchard Park, N.Y. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95 at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. Bills president Russ Brandon made the announcement at the NFL winter meetings in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Wilson Jr. was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/David Duprey, File)
  • FILE - In this Nov. 1, 2009, file photo, Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. celebrates his Hall of Fame induction at a half-time ceremony during the NFL football game against the Houston Texans in Orchard Park, N.Y. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95. NFL.com says team president Russ Brandon announced his death at the league's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. He was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/Don Heupel, File)
  • FILE - This March 2, 2006, file photo shows Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson arriving for a meeting with NFL owners and commissioner Paul Tagliabue at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95. NFL.com says team president Russ Brandon announced his death at the league's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. He was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano, File)
  • FILE - In this July 26, 1972, file photo, Ralph Wilson, owner of the Buffalo Bills football team, listens to a question as he appeared before the House Select Committee on Crime in Washington. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95. NFL.com says team president Russ Brandon announced his death at the league's annual meeting in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. (AP Photo/Charles Gorry, File)
  • FILE - In this Jan. 31, 2009, file photo Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson gestures during a news conference in Tampa, Fla. Bills owner Wilson Jr. has died at the age of 95 at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. Bills president Russ Brandon made the announcement at the NFL winter meetings in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, March 25, 2014. Wilson Jr. was one of the original founders of the American Football League and owned the Bills for the last 54 years. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)

Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson, who helped found the American Football League in 1960, died at his home yesterday afternoon. He was 95.

Bills President Russ Brandon made the announcement at the NFL winter meetings in Orlando.

Wilson was the founder and sole owner of the Bills after establishing the team with the upstart AFL in 1960. He played a key role in the league’s merger with the NFL. He was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 2009.

Wilson died at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich., around 1:40 p.m., said Mary Mazur, spokeswoman for the Wayne County medical examiner’s office.

He had been receiving in-home hospice care.

“No one loves this game more than Ralph Wilson,” Brandon said in a statement. “It’s very tough. What he’s meant to the entire organization. He’s our leader, our mentor our friend. How he loves his players and loved our community. Special guy. They just don’t make them like Ralph Wilson.”

Wilson had been in failing health for several years after having hip surgery in 2011. Though he spent much of his time at his home suburban Detroit, he was well enough to attend the Hall of Fame induction weekends over the past few years.

After regularly attending Bills home games since founding the franchise, Wilson had not been to a game since attending one in 2010.

Wilson established a reputation as being the “conscience” of the NFL for his loyalty to fans and the several stands he took against franchise relocation.

“He didn’t let anyone pull anything off in him. He was very forceful,” New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson said.

“Mr. Wilson was a visionary and pioneer of professional football,” added Atlanta Falcons owner Arthur Blank. “We have lost a founding member of the NFL family, but Ralph’s lasting impact on the NFL will forever be felt.”

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