NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Titans owner Bud Adams, who helped found the American Football League and whose battles for players helped lead to the merger with the NFL, has died. He was 90.
The team announced Monday that Adams had died, saying he “passed away peacefully from natural causes.”
The son of a prominent oil executive, Adams built his own energy fortune and founded the Houston Oilers. He moved the team to Tennessee in 1997 when he couldn’t get the new stadium he wanted in Houston. The franchise, renamed the Titans, in 2000 reached the Super Bowl that Adams had spent more than three decades pursuing.
Coach Mike Munchak said Adams was willing to spend money to help his team win, remembering how he ordered the Titans to chase free agent Peyton Manning in March 2012. The Titans also spent more than $100 million this offseason on players, and Munchak said their challenge now will be winning the Super Bowl in his memory — the one item missing from Adams’ legacy.
Funeral plans have yet to be announced. Munchak said the Titans will decide later how to remember their founder.
Adams’ 409 wins were the most of any current NFL owner. He notched his 400th career win in the 2011 season finale when his Titans defeated the team that replaced his Oilers in Houston, the Texans. His franchise made 21 playoff appearances in 53 seasons, eighth among NFL teams since 1960.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called Adams a pioneer and innovator.
Kenneth Stanley Adams Jr. was born in Bartlesville, Okla., to the future chief executive of Phillips Petroleum Co., K.S. “Boots” Adams.
Adams joined Dallas oilman Lamar Hunt on Aug. 3, 1959, when they announced the AFL would begin competing with the NFL at a news conference in Adams’ office. Adams founded one of the new league’s charter franchises.
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.
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.