The only era the Tennessee Titans franchise has ever known came to and end Monday morning after nearly 54 years as franchise owner K.S. "Bud" Adams died this morning in Houston. He was 90.
Adams founded the team as the Houston Oilers in 1959 as part of the American Football League, which began play in 1960 with eight teams and owners who became known as "The Foolish Club" for attempting to take on the established National Football League.
Adams, along with founding AFL owners Lamar Hunt of the Kansas City Chiefs (Dallas Texans originally) and Ralph Wilson of the Buffalo Bills saw the project through to a merger with the NFL a decade later that turned their initial $25,000 investment into a multi-million dollar success.
Adams' Oilers were the dominant team in he early days of the AFL winning the league's first two titles in 1960 and '61.
During his time, Adams endured many ups and downs with the franchise with highlights including the Luv Ya Blue era of the late '70s with Coach Bum Phillips , who ironically died this past weekend.
Other highs included making seven straight postseason appearances in the '80s and '90s with quarterback Warren Moon, and linemen that included current Titans head coach Mike Munchak and current offensive line coach Bruce Matthews. All three are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
But Adams biggest move other than founding the franchise and merging it with the NFL was his move to Tennessee in 1997. It marked the firs major professional sports team to call Tennessee home. The transition culminated with the franchise's only Super Bowl appearance following the 1999 season. That was also the team's first year as the Titans and first season in its current stadium home now known as LP Field.
The arrival of the Titans and the NHL expansion Nashville Predators in 1998 signaled a new day for Nashville, as the city became recognized as a viable and legitimate metropolitan city due in part to the pro sports coming to town. Adams and then Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen were instrumental in making the Titans and pro sports a reality in Music City.
In recent years and especially following the death of his wife Nancy in 2009, Adams took less of a role in the day-to-day operation of the club. His declining health and being 800 miles away from the club played a huge role in that.
Back in 2011, Adams told The Nashville Ledger that he had a succession plan in place that included his grandson Kenneth Adams IV playing a vital role in running the Titans.
“I think he’s gonna develop into being one of our leaders down the road,” Bud Adams said in a 2011 interview. “I think he likes what he’s doing, and he works absolutely hard."
The younger Adams, now 28, began learning the ropes of virtually every aspect of the organization in 2006 after graduating from The University of The South.
Also, the families of Adams two surviving daughters, Susie Smith and Amy Strunk, will also inherit a share of the team. Past indications are that neither of them has an interest in running the daily operations of the club.