Tonawanda News

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March 25, 2014

DUVALL: Wilson's passing brings fond memories, fears for the future

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Tonawanda News —

Still, our relationship with Ralph was hardly all roses. Fans have alternately chided him as cheap and praised his commitment to preserving our place in the pro sports landscape of America. We're on the map because of Ralph, even if our place on it is a rather dubious one.

But that's the national perspective. Living here, we know the Bills aren't woven into the fabric of life in Buffalo. The Bills are life in Buffalo. Even if you're not a sports fan it's impossible to separate Buffalo from the Bills. They're as much a part of us as snowstorms and chicken wings. 

So many Sundays have been spent with family and friends — with my city — united in common purpose. Maybe who wins a football game in and of itself doesn't mean anything and really, it doesn't. But to say the Bills mean a great deal to us and our lives is a gross understatement. There is literally nothing that brings more of us together than the Bills and you can't write that off as "just sports."

Now it is in danger of changing. It goes without saying if the Bills ever left it would be one of the darkest days our city ever experienced and we've had our share of them around here. To even think of it breaks my heart.

Mr. Wilson's death makes what has always been an existential threat of the team leaving entirely real. I'm consoled, slightly, by the team's stadium lease, which locks them in for at least the next seven years. But what after that? What if someone buys the team and waits it out? What if they leave and find the success that's eluded us for so long now in Los Angeles or Toronto? What then?

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