Wilson rethinks who will succeed him as Bills' owner

4/9/2006 - Buffalo Bills

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. -- Ralph Wilson is reconsidering plans on
who eventually will succeed him in owning the Buffalo Bills, saying
selling the team might not be the best option under the NFL's new
labor deal.

Speaking to reporters Sunday after meeting with Sen. Charles
Schumer, Wilson said the new collective bargaining agreement could
restrict any prospective Bills buyer from receiving revenue-sharing
assistance, making it financially difficult to keep the team in

"Before, I was going to sell the team or something," Wilson
said. "But I don't know now. This has changed everything."

Wilson repeated concerns about the Bills' long-term future.

"I have always said, always, that I would never move the team
from Buffalo," Wilson said. "Now, with this new collective
bargaining agreement, I'm hopeful that I can steadfastly adhere to
what I've said. But I'm making no promises."

Wilson, who turns 88 in October, is now considering the
possibility of one of his family members succeeding him as owner.
That's something he had ruled out in the past, saying his wife,
Mary, and three daughters had expressed no interest in running the

The NFL is still determining how teams will qualify for the
labor deal's new revenue-sharing model. The league is considering a
proposal that would prevent new owners from initially taking part
in the program.

That worries Wilson because the Bills are among the NFL's
smaller markets and rely on revenue sharing to stay competitive.

"The next new owner couldn't keep the team here," Wilson told
The Associated Press after the press conference with Schumer. "It
could not be fair. It's not a fair proposal. ... They're changing
things on me."

The Bills and the Cincinnati Bengals cast the only votes against
the agreement last month.

Schumer's visit to Buffalo was the latest in a series of
meetings over the past week for Wilson in an attempt to generate
political pressure on the NFL to ensure the viability of
small-market teams. Wilson also met with Gov. George Pataki,
western New York congressmen Tom Reynolds and Brian Higgins and
Erie County executive Joel Giambra.

Schumer said he intends to express his concerns to NFL
commissioner Paul Tagliabue. He said he also intends to gather his
colleagues, whose areas include small-market teams, in an attempt
to meet with NFL executives.

"The bottom line is very simple. The smaller teams in the
league, because of the new contract, are going to have a very tough
time of making it," Schumer said. "I hope the NFL hasn't lost its
way. I hope it sticks with the original model where smaller market
teams can compete, can win Super Bowls and stay financially