The Houston Chronicle reported late Monday morning that Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams has died of natural causes at age 90.
The team later confirmed that Adams passed away peacefully at his home.
The Texas billionaire’s career was marked by fiesty and sometimes gutsy moves. With little more in place than a handshake deal between two oilmen, Adams and Lamar Hunt announced in 1959 they intended to get a new professional football league up and running in less than a year’s time.
“Lamar would have a team in Dallas and I would have a team in Houston, and there would be other teams forthcoming, because we didn’t have any other ones in there.”
It was enough of a risk that the owners called themselves the Foolish Club, but eight teams did take the field in 1960 as the AFL (American Football League). Later, Adams helped convince the NFL to merge with the AFL.
Then, after nearly 40 years of the Adams’ Oilers playing in Houston-and a dispute with that city’s officials over a new stadium-Adams moved his team to Nashville.
The franchise played for two years as the Tennessee Oilers – one year in Memphis and another at Vanderbilt stadium – before settling into its home in downtown Nashville and becoming the Titans in 1999.
Combined, the Oilers and Titans tallied 409 wins under Bud Adams’ ownership. His teams made the playoffs 21 times and went to the Superbowl once. Nine of his players are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and Adams himself is on the list of people being considered for the next class of inductees.
As to who will succeed Adams as owner, the team only says “there is a plan in place”. As in this post from the Nashville Ledger, speculation is that ownership will remain in the Adams family.
Confirmation from the Titans Twitter account:
Titans/Oilers founder and owner K.S. “Bud” Adams, Jr. passed away peacefully from natural causes at his home this morning in Houston.
— Tennessee Titans (@TennesseeTitans) October 21, 2013
Bud Adams was one-of-kind. One of those impossible only-in-Texas figures. …
— J.R. Lind (@jrlind) October 21, 2013
Talked to Bud Adams just last month about his desire to be in Hall of Fame 1 day. Was always fun to talk to, and he loved his team #Titans
— Jim Wyatt (@jwyattsports) October 21, 2013
RIP Bud Adams. The Tennessee Titans are one of the classiest organizations in professional football.
— Victor Downey (@victordowney) October 21, 2013
Many on Twitter are noting that Adams died within days of former Oilers head coach Bum Philips:
Bud Adams and Bum Philips gone in the span of two days. R.I.P. Bad time to be an older NFL person associated with Houston.
— Rames Ali (@RamesAli) October 21, 2013
My theory: When Bum get to heaven and had his first convo with God he said “So about Bud Adams, if your going to take me…” Too soon?
— Chase Hernandez (@chasehernandez) October 21, 2013