"It’s the end of a real important era. He was so important in developing football to what it is today -- the NFL. He was the AFL. He was always a guy that was up to the task. He had a great sense of humor, he was a great speaker, Hall of Fame. I heard his Hall-of-Fame speech he gave at 91. It was better than most people could give at 31. Really just an incredible leader. Great vision. And so it’s the end, really, of a major, major part of American football, to lose a guy like Ralph Wilson."
Johnson said Wilson was one of the first owners he met after purchasing the Jets in 2000.
"He described the satisfaction he got out of it, working with the players, the fans and building this league," Johnson said. "It sounded like something that was very interesting."
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell broke the news to the owners in a meeting.
"We’re lucky to have had a guy like that, because you had a guy like that at the right place at the right time, who formed this league," Johnson said, adding: "He was always a presence in the room. He always spoke very fluently about the past and what football meant to him, and how we were getting away from it if we were going off course. He'd let us know."