Ralph Wilson's passing on Tuesday -- during the league's annual spring meeting -- was met with sadness by his peers.
Wilson, whose health had been declining, reached the pinnacle of his career a few years ago with his enshrinement in the Hall of Fame, where he was honored for his work bringing the AFL and NFL together through the merger as well as helping put together the league's early TV deals.
Wilson's Bills reached a record four straight Super Bowls, coming up short in all, and players from that golden era of the team continue to enter the Hall of Fame as well. Wilson has been far less prominent in recent years, remaining at his home in Detroit, with executive Russ Brandon, who announced Wilson's passing today, serving as the de facto owner.
Brandon will now be a key figure in orchestrating the next chapter for the team, which is virtually certain to include the sale of the team. There are local groups interested in the club, as well as any number of billionaires or corporations, including entities like Rogers Communications and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment in Canada.
The Bills have continued attempts to upgrade Ralph Wilson Stadium and are viewed as an important regional franchise to the league for their history and geography, which includes a lucrative business community in Southern Ontario.