K.S. “Bud” Adams Jr. was one of the founding fathers of the American Football League (AFL, now AFC) with his team, the Houston Oilers. And he quickly became successful with his team: The first two AFL titles went to Texas. But in 1997 Adams left Houston to go to Tennessee and two years later, the Oilers were finally renamed to Tennessee Titans.
As a first quarterback for his team Adams contracted George Blanda who could already look back on an eleven-year career at the time of signing the contract – and should have another 15 years to go. Signing the veteran paid off for Houston very soon: In the very first season of the new League the Oilers won the championship against the Los Angeles Chargers. A year later, they defended their title successfully. One more year later, they were close to defending their title again, they failed: In a game that lasted 77 minutes and 54 seconds for two extensions – the longest game in the history of professional american football at all – they lost to the Dallas Texans with 20:17.
After the early successes, the Oilers had some up and downs with good years and bad years: The Oilers needed almost ten years to reach the AFL Cahmpionship game under Head Coach “Bum” Phillips in 1978 and 1979, but then disappeared again for almost ten years in the darkness of the lower ranks. Between 1997 and 1993, the Oilers were able to reach the play-offs seven times in a row under Jerry Glanville and Jack Pardee, but the Oilers always lost early in the playoffs.
With George Blanda in the 1960s, Dan Pastorini in the 1970s and Warren Moon in the late 1980s and the early 1990s, the Oilers could always rely on strong quarterbacks. With Earl Campbell, they also had an extraordinary running back in the late 1970s and early 1980s. However, he had paid a high price for his outstanding career – 1978 he was elected to the most valuable player in the league as a rookie – He still struggles with the after-effects of the many hits he had to suffer throughout his career.
In 1968 the Houston Oilers left the ancestral Rice Stadium and move to the newly built Astrodome. Thus they became the first dome team in the NFL and also the first team that played on artificial turf. Other teams followed the example of the Oilers soon.
In 1997, Oilers owner Adams decided to move his team to Tennessee – a decision which fans still blame him for today, which you can see each time the Titans play against the Houston Texans in “Space City. In the beginning the Oilers didn’t find a real home in Tennessee and alternatively played in Nashville and Memphis. Their new stadium in Nashville was finally finished in 1999. This year they also finally changed their name from Tennessee Oilers to Tennessee Titans and it also brought another turn for the better: The Titans reached the Super Bowl for the first time in their history. However, in a dramatic match, the Tennessee Titans were defeated by the St. Louis Rams with 23:17.