Bud Adams dies: Titans owner Bud Adams stayed with his team over 60 years
Bud Adams, who helped create the American Football League, has owned the Tennessee Titans since he founded them as the Houston Oilers over six decades ago. He moved the team to Tennessee in 1997.
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He won a major battle with the NFL in June 1960, shortly before the AFL's debut, when a judge ruled Louisiana State Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon — who signed with the Oilers underneath the goalposts after the Sugar Bowl that year — was their property despite having later signed with the NFL's Los Angeles Rams.Skip to next paragraph
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"It was a big step for us," Adams said.
The Oilers won the first two AFL titles and reached the championship game four times during the 1960s. In 1968, the Oilers became the first indoor football team when they moved into the 3-year-old Astrodome.
Meanwhile, Adams quietly became one of the nation's wealthiest oilmen as his ADA Oil Co. evolved into the publicly traded Adams Resources & Energy Inc., a Fortune 500 company based in Houston. His business interests included farming and ranching in Texas and California, cattle feeding, real estate and automobile sales.
He also was a major collector of western art and Indian artifacts and maintained a private gallery at his corporate headquarters.
Adams convinced Tampa Bay owner Hugh Culverhouse to trade him the rights to Heisman Trophy-winning running back Earl Campbell in 1978.
The Campbell-led teams reached two straight AFC title games, only to lose to eventual Super Bowl winner Pittsburgh each time. The Oilers flamed out of the playoffs early in 1980 and Adams fired popular coach Bum Phillips, a move that permanently alienated him from many fans of the team's "Luv Ya Blue" era. Phillips died Friday, also at the age of 90.
Adams complained about the Astrodome in 1987 and toured the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville scouting a possible move before getting the 10,000 extra seats he wanted in Houston.
The Oilers had their longest run of success in the late 1980s and early 1990s after signing Warren Moon in 1984. They became best known for blowing a record 32-point lead in a playoff game at Buffalo on Jan. 3, 1993 — Adams' 70th birthday.
Adams began railing about the aging Astrodome shortly afterward. When he moved his team, Adamscontinued to live and work in Houston.
Renamed the Titans, his franchise reached its lone Super Bowl after the 1999 season only to lose to the Rams 23-16 when Kevin Dyson was tackled at the St. Louis 1-yard line as time expired. The Titans made a second AFC championship game after the 2002 season as part of six playoff berths, the last in 2008.
His wife Nancy died in 2009. He is survived by daughters Susie Smith and Amy Strunk, and seven grandchildren. Another son, Kenneth Stanley Adams III, died in 1987 at age 29.
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