The Buffalo Bills announced on Tuesday that Ralph Wilson, the man who brought pro football to Buffalo as the owner of the Bills and a key figure in the NFL's rise to prominence, passed away at the age of 95.
"Ralph Wilson was not only a founding father of the American Football League, but an iconic leader of what is so special about the NFL," Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. "He was a man who loved his football team and his Buffalo fans and always wanted what was best for the NFL.
"I admired his independent thinking on every issue that arose and will always remember his welcoming support when I came in to the league. He was a great example of ownership based on his love of the sport and especially his Buffalo Bills. On behalf of the Philadelphia Eagles, I would like to pass along my condolences to the Wilson family and to the entire Buffalo Bills organization."
At the NFL's Owners' Meetings in Orlando, Lurie spoke with local reporters about the state of the team following Chip Kelly's first year as head coach. Lurie is "very confident" in the plan that Kelly has implemented.
"It's a very focused plan based on what the character needs to be, what the performance level needs to be, what the preparation to perform at your maximum level needs to be," Lurie said, according to Birds 24/7. "It's a very focused target system where you know the kinds of people you want to surround our current players with and who to go after and what the function in this offense is. Because it's different than it was with Andy (Reid). The defense is completely different.
"Now we've had a whole year to figure out exactly the kinds of players in the draft and what their performance level needs to be, what their strengths and weaknesses can be and their character."
The Eagles have been very active this offseason in free agency adding players who fit the scheme and culture such as safety Malcolm Jenkins and running back Darren Sproles, among others. Lurie expressed complete trust in the personnel decisions that the team has made.
"I think you have to be very astute in how you want to allocate your resources to win big," Lurie said. "We learned a lesson in terms of a few years ago in the offseason. Sure, we were the team that signed Nnamdi (Asomugha) and some other guys. It just doesn't work that way. You've got to be disciplined. And in this case it was great because our coach knew some of the top free agent safeties, and they played for him and we could operate at a level that was based on his projection of reality.
"Nobody knows the safety who the Saints signed better than our coach. I have very big confidence in that. And if he thought that we should allocate our resources to have that player be our safety for the next several years at that level, then that's what we would have done."