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Ralph Wilson had Giants owner John Mara's admiration

Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. holds up

Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson Jr. holds up his Hall of Fame ring during a halftime ceremony during a game against the Houston Texans in Orchard Park, N.Y., on Nov. 1, 2009. Credit: AP / Dean Duprey

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Giants co-owner John Mara recalled Ralph Wilson as "a true visionary and pioneer" and said the NFL is a better league because of people like the Bills owner, who died on Tuesday at the age of 95.

 That’s not to say they always saw eye-to-eye.

Mara chuckled when going down the list of ventures and proposals made by the Giants over the years that Wilson voted against, including the decision to have a cold-weather outdoor Super Bowl and the ability for the Giants and Jets to build MetLife Stadium.

"He had a lot of character, a lot of integrity," Mara said. "He was not afraid to be the lone dissenting voice in the room. I can think of any number of votes that were 31-1 or 30-2 and he was one of the dissenters. He was not afraid to speak his mind and vote his conscience. He was somebody I had a great deal of admiration for."

Wilson was close with John Mara’s late father, Wellington Mara, and remained close with his mother Ann.

One thing that Mara and Wilson would undoubtedly agree on would be the future of the Bills, a franchise that may now have a tedious future in western New York State.

"It’s a great fan base up there," Mara said. "That franchise is so important to those people, it certainly would be my hope that it remains there."

New York Sports