Houston Oilers History | Tennessee Titans Beginning


Houston Oilers History | Tennessee Titans Beginning

Owner and President K. S. "Bud" Adams Jr. was one of the founding fathers of the American Football League in 1959. Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon of Louisiana State was the Oilers' and the AFL's first major signing. The Oilers were the first AFL champions, winning the 1960 and 1961 titles. The Oilers lost a third consecutive championship in 1962 when they lost 20-17 to the Dallas Texans. That moment was highlighted by the historic sixth period, which would become the longest game played in the life of Professional Football at 77 minutes and 54 seconds.

The Oilers had qualified for postseason action a total of 15 times in club history with AFL Playoff appearances in 1960, 1961, 1962, 1967 and 1969. Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, Houston has reached the Playoffs 10 times. Included are three in a row in 1979, 1980, 1981 and a string of seven games beginning in 1987.

The AFL championships Houston won in its first two years of play remain the only league titles the Oilers have won. They won AFL Eastern Division championships in that 10-year-old league and AFC Central Division titles in 1991 and 1993.

Several coaches have contributed to Houston's winning seasons. Lou Rymkus led the Oilers to their first championship in 1960, while Wally Lemm coached the team to the AFL title in 1961. Frank "Pop" Ivy won the divisional championship the following year. Lemm returned to the team to lead the Oilers to the 1967 AFL East championship. "Bum" Phillips led the Oliers to three consecutive Playoff appearances in 1979, 1980 and 1981 and Jerry Glanville took the Oilers to postseason play three times in four seasons from 1986 to 1989. Houston turned to Jack Pardee who led the team through the 1990s. He guided his first four teams to the Playoffs. The Oilers won their first divisional championship after 24 years in 1991 and repeated in 1993. Jeff Fisher was named interim head coach in November 1994 and was officially given the job in 1995.

Three Oilers-trained stars are now members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The legendary George Blanda, who played for 26 years as the Oilers' quarterback from 1960 to 1966, was the first to be named in 1981. Ken Houston, one of the greatest deep linemen in history, was chosen in 1986 and Earl Campbell, a power running back from Texas, was selected in 1991. Four Oilers-trained stars have had their jerseys retired, deep Jim Norton, defensive end Elvin Bethea, Campbell and guard Mike Munchak.

In the 1960s, Blanda was a big yardage maker, throwing to receivers like Charlie Hennigan, who caught a then-record 101 passes in the 1964 season. The Oilers of the 1980s and early 1990s were powered by quarterback Warren Moon and an array of excellent receivers.

Houston began its AFL life at Jeppesen Stadium, a high school field that seated 33,000 attendees, before moving in 1965, to the 70,000-seat Rice Stadium. In 1968, the Oilers moved to the nation's first indoor stadium, the air-conditioned Astrodome, becoming the first team in Professional Football to play inside a synthetic turf field. In 1997, the Oilers became the first NFL team to be named Tennessee when the franchise relocated its home to Volunteer Stadium. Two years later in 1999, the franchise retired the Oilers nickname and changed it to be known as the Titans.