Ralph Wilson had been the sole owner of the Buffalo Bills since 1959. That all changed on March 25 when the 95-year-old died at his home.
"Ralph Wilson was a driving force in developing pro football into America's most popular sport," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement-according to ESPN.com. "He loved the game and took a chance on a start-up league in 1960 as a founding owner of the American Football League. He brought his beloved Bills to western New York and his commitment to the team's role in the community set a standard for the NFL.
"As a trusted advisor to his fellow league owners and the commissioner, Ralph always brought a principled and common-sense approach to issues. His lifelong loyalty to the game was instrumental in his richly deserved induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We are grateful for his many contributions to the NFL and offer our heartfelt sympathy to the Wilson family."
As aforementioned, Wilson played a huge role in the game's tremendous success. It was inevitable after his death that the Bills franchise would have a new owner or owners soon enough. Nearly two months after his death, the franchise became available to be purchased by prospective buyers. It was expected that there would be numerous prospective buyers and that has definitely been the case. Will Brinson of CBSSports reported on Thursday that there are currently eight prospective buyers; including billionaire Donald Trump. The list of prospective buyers became even more interesting on Thursday with Jim Kelly, the former Bills Hall of Fame quarterback reportedly teaming up with one of the prospective buyers.
Kelly's fight against oral cancer has arguably been the biggest headline this offseason. He has been a beloved player in Buffalo, and numerous places, since he helped the Bills participate in four consecutive Super Bowl appearances in the early 1990s. Unfortunately for Kelly, he had to "(undergo) chemotherapy (beginning on March 31) at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan to fight a recurrence of oral cancer," according to Fox Sports. Numerous of people showed their support for Kelly while he was fighting cancer; including three Nascar drivers (http://instagram.com/p/otv8QzrI_R). After nearly two months of chemotherapy, May 20, Kelly finished chemotherapy and exited the hospital.
Many people worldwide rejoiced when Kelly made a visit to Canton to show support for one of his former teammates, Andre Reed, getting enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. One of the most iconic moments of that Hall of Fame induction was when Kelly threw a pass to Reed. It was unknown what Kelly would do next, but that has all changed with him joining a bidder's team.
There is no doubt that whichever prospective buyer was able to add Kelly to their respective team has increased their chances of purchasing the franchise. For starters, the Bills potential owner or owners will reportedly have to keep the team in Buffalo, according to NFL Media's Judy Battista. There is no better way to show the Bills' trust that they would be staying in Buffalo then for a prospective buyer to add Kelly to their team. There is no way Kelly would want the team to move from Buffalo after all of the success he experienced during his playing career. In addition to that, there is no franchise that could honestly say no to a great player in their franchise's history become an owner or part-owner of a team.
The Bills have struggled to achieve success since Kelly announced his retirement in 1997. Since Kelly retired at the end of the 1996-1997 season, the Bills have only reached the nine-win plateau three times. If that is not enough, they have not reached the playoffs since the 1999-2000 season. The Bills fan base could definitely use some sort of positive sign as their team continues to struggle on the field. There is no better positive sign than to allow the prospective buyer with Kelly on their team to purchase the Bills.
"[The] connection between Jim Kelly and Buffalo Bills fans and Western New York is unmistakable," Smith said-according to Mike Rodak of ESPN.com. "It's very powerful. It's real. It's within you. That's what he embodies. That's what he instills: the belief, the belief that you can win, above all odds."
For those two reasons, Kelly's entrance into the prospective buyer frenzy will definitely have a tremendous impact on which prospective bidding team will emerge victorious. In the end, it will probably come down to which prospective buyer offers the Bills' trust the most money to purchase the team and will keep the team in Buffalo.
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