Ralph Wilson Christmas Carol

Mike BurnsContributor INovember 22, 2009

ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 9:  Ralph Wilson, owner of the Buffalo Bills, waits for a halftime ceremony during the game against the Miami Dolphins on October 9, 2005 at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Orchard Park, New York. The Bills defeated the Dolphins 20-14.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

November 16, 2009 huddled in his Detroit, Michigan office 91 year old Ralph Wilson Jr contemplates the future.  There are noises in the hallway,  sounds of chains being dragged towards his quiet office.

Banging starts on his door as he yells out "What do you want"  Suddenly coming through the closed door is an image Mr. Wilson thought he would never see again.  As clear as day, yet transparent is the image of his old General Manager John Butler.

"Mr. Wilson"  boomed the voice of the very large spirit.  "Mr. Wilson"  the voice boomed again.  Ralph Jr sat there terrified at seeing the ghost of his old general manager.  "What, what do you, you want" stuttered the 91 year old owner of the Buffalo Bills.

"I am here to deliver a message to you Mr. Wilson"  shouted the apperation of John Butler.  "Tonight you will be visited by 3 spirits, the ghosts of Buffalo Bills seasons past, present and future"

"Leave me be"  shouted the team owner.  "Very well, your first visitor will be here shortly" said the ghost.

Trembling now Mr. Wilson sat at his desk.  The hour was getting late and he knew he should get home to his beloved wife Mary.  As he was gathering his things the lights in his office began to flicker.  His computer screen began flashing images of Buffalo Bills players from long ago.  Slowly as if coming to life before his eyes an image of Jack Kemp, former Buffalo Bills Quarterback and politician.

"Jack is that you" a frightened Mr. Wilson said.  "Yes Mr. Wilson"  Tonight I will take you down a path of remembrance, back to how you used to be"  said the image of Jack.

Grabbing Mr. Wilson by the hand and pulling him through the closed window of the office into the late fall night they took flight.  Gliding over the city of Detroit to the campus of University of Michigan where Ralph Jr. went to law school.  Ralph Jr. stood speechless as he saw many faces from those days walk by him.  They flew again this time to the battlefields of World War 2, where Ralph J.r served his country proudly.

Back to Detroit we see Mr. Wilson as part owner of the Detroit Lions wishing he had his own team.  Negoations with Lamar Hunt and the new American Football League falling through when the city of Miami says they do not want a team in that league.  Relentless in his pursuit Ralph Jr. lands a team in the upstart league in the city of Buffalo.

Winning 2 championships with his current companion and then helping the new league merge with the National Football League Ralph Jr. fulfills his dream of owning an NFL team.

Images of OJ Simpson rushing for 2003 yards, beating Miami for the first time in 10 years, Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Bruce Smith leading the team to 4 straight Super bowls.  The greatest comeback game against Houston all these wonderful memories bringing a smile to Ralph Jr. weathered face.

Now standing in the offices of One Bills Drive Ralph Jr. is watching himself fire General Managers Bill Polian, John Butler and Tom Donahue.  Coaches like Wade Phillips, Gregg Williams, Mike Mularkey all shown the way out the door for failing to deliver a return to the glory days.

Suddenly Ralph Jr. finds himself standing alone in his darkened office.  Falling back into his chair Mr. Wilson sits in silence thinking about what had just happened.

Noises in the hallway break him out of his trance.  Struggling to his feet Ralph Jr. walks out the door of his office down the darkened hallway.  Past pictures of past glory Ralph Jr makes his way towards the source of the noise.

Almost to the end of the long coridor there is a light coming out fromn undr a door.  Noises of shouting coming from within.  Slowly Mr. Wilson opens the door to see the room beyond is a football field where his former coach Lou Saban is yelling orders to something Ralph Jr cannot see.

Lou sees Ralph Jr enter the field and suddenly turns to a mist.  The mist reappears in front of Ralph Jr smiling brightly.  "Ralphy old boy, long time no see" says the spirit of Lou Saban.  Laughing loudly the spirit says to Mr Wilson "What the heck is going on with you, you fire me twice and both my teams were better than anything this clown has done"  pointing to a picture of current Bills coach Dick Jauron.  "Come with me shouts the ghost" as they walk towards the tunnel at the end of the field.  Upon entering the tunnel Ralph Jr sees fans in a Buffalo tavern wearing their Bills jerseys, hats and tshirts.  Looking at one television over the bar he sees his Buffalo Bills playing.  No one is watching that television, they are watching other games on separate televisions.  Moving quickly Lou and Ralph Jr. are now standing in an office building listening to people talk about how the Bills suck.  Maybe things will get better when Wilson dies says one man.  No Way says another, his daughter will just sell and move the team to Toronto or Los Angeles.  Either way they still suck says a third man.

Sunday afternoon and kids are playing outside instead of watching football, malls and stores are packed.  Lou turns toward Mr. Wilson and says "congratulations old boy!  It only took you 50 years to alienate the fans of this proud city" 

Again back in his office Mr. Wilson stands alone.  Body shaking badly he now looks for his chair to sit down.  Every step he takes towards his chair the room seems to get longer.  His desk looks so far away now.  Thinking he maybe having a stroke Ralph reaches for his cell phone.  Dialing 911 his phone suddenly lights up and seems to come alive in his hand.  Images of a dilapidated Ralph Wilson Stadium abandoned long ago.  Spray paint on the sides of the stadium stating Rot in Pieces Ralph.  "What is happening to me shouts", the 91 year old man.  Images of cars, buildings, all over the city of Buffalo and not one Buffalo Bills logo anywhere to be seen.  Suddenly the images stop on his phone with only one image left.  Ralph Wilson Jr.  1918 - 2009 is the title of a small article in the Buffalo News.  Reading on it states he owned the team, had a wife and children and lived in Detroit.  nothing more, nothing less.  Essentially forgotten sadly Ralph Wilson Jr. closes his phone and falls to the floor.  The last thought in his head was this is how it ends.

Sunlight coming through the office window, Ralph Wilson Jr. awakes crumbled on the office floor.  Realizing he is still alive as he shakes the cobwebs from his head.  Hearing noises in the hallway he stands up unafraid and opens the door.  Seeing his secretary he runs out and grabs her.  Hugging her tight he tells her to get Dick Jauron and Russ Brandon here right away.  I want them in my office today.

Later that day Mr Ralph Wilson Jr relives Dick Jauron of his position as head coach of the Buffalo Bills, boldly promises changes throughout the organization and to bring a winning team back to Buffalo.