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Ed Driscoll

First Bum, Now Bud

October 21st, 2013 - 12:30 pm

“Titans owner Bud Adams has died at age 90,” Comcast Sportsnet-Houston reports:

His business interests also took him to farming and ranching interests 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.

The sports world was where he had his highest profile, however.

His Oilers slumped badly in the years following the 1970 merger between the AFL and the NFL, only to rise to prominence in the late 1970s when Adams convinced Tampa Bay Buccaneers 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 reacted by firing 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 further irritated Houstonians in 1987 when he first began complaining about the Astrodome and toured the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville to scout a possible move. Harris County relented and added the 10,000 extra seats Adams demanded.

The Oilers had their longest run of success in the late 1980s and early 1990s but became best known for blowing a record 32-point lead in a playoff game at Buffalo on Jan. 3, 1993 – Adams’ 70th birthday.

Adams again began railing about the aging Astrodome shortly afterward, and this time Houston politicians called his bluff. Adams went ahead with his team’s threatened move to Tennessee, though he continued to live and work in Houston.

Faced with losing the Astros soon after, Houston voters approved use of tax money to finance a new ballpark and — once the NFL granted Houston the expansion Texans — a football stadium.

”We feel like we were the catalyst for three new stadiums,” said Adams, who also caused construction of a stadium in Nashville for the Oilers/Titans.

His franchise enjoyed another on-field renaissance after moving to Nashville and reached the 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 have made it to the playoffs six times, most recently in 2008 with a second AFC championship game appearance after the 2002 season. Adams was one of only four current NFL owners to have at least 350 wins in his career.

RIP. For our look back at Bum Phillips, click  here.

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