by Jim Wyatt USA Today
NASHVILLE — Kenneth Stanley "Bud" Adams, a Texas oilman who brought the National Football League to Nashville and ignited the city's love affair with the Tennessee Titans, died Monday, The (Nashville) Tennessean confirmed. He was 90.
The Houston Chronicle first reported Adams' death.
Adams founded the Houston Oilers in 1959 as part of the new American Football League. Until his death he remained owner, chairman of the board, and president and CEO of the franchise that became the Titans in 1999 after a controversial departure from Houston.
He was one of only four NFL owners to reach the 350-win plateau, a milestone he shared with Ralph Wilson (Buffalo Bills), Dan Rooney (Pittsburgh Steelers) and Al Davis (Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders).
Adams' franchise earned 21 playoff appearances in 50 seasons — a total that ranks fifth all-time among NFL teams since 1960 — yet it never realized his dream of winning a Super Bowl.
"I'd like to wear (a ring) that says, 'Super Bowl champions' on there. ... I'll keep my fingers crossed," Adams said in a 2009 interview. "But at my age I just take it one day, one game at a time. You can't build your hopes up."
Adams was a trendsetter with a lifelong love of sports and a fondness for Houston, which refused to build him a new stadium when he felt the Astrodome became unsuitable for his NFL team. Although he relocated his franchise to Nashville in 1997, Adams kept his office and residence in Houston until his death.
During a 2009 interview, former Titans coach Jeff Fisher called Adams a great owner. Adams hired Fisher in 1995, but in early 2011, the coach and the Titans parted ways after 17 seasons. Fisher was named head coach of the St. Louis Rams in January 2012.
"From a head coaching standpoint, you can't ask for a better situation as far as a relationship with an owner," Fisher said. "He is 100% supportive of everything we have attempted to do and tried to do and even failed at doing. He is behind us and is very generous and understands the game very well and really, really enjoys this team.
"He expects anybody and everybody who works for him to work hard, he has a standard. And he expects loyalty, not only to him but to everyone who works for him, to one another."
Current Titans coach Mike Munchak, a Hall of Fame offensive lineman with the Oilers, was selected by Adams to replace Fisher.
In 2008, Adams received the inaugural Lamar Hunt Award for Professional Football, which recognized his vision and his role in helping the NFL reach preeminent status.
Adams and Hunt announced the formation of the AFL in Adams' office in 1959, and the league began play in 1960.
Adams' wife of 62 years, Nancy, died in February 2009. They raised two daughters, Susie Smith and Amy Strunk, and a son, Kenneth S. Adams III, who is deceased. Adams had seven grandchildren.