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.
“That’ll be our challenge going forward,” Munchak said.
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.
“As a founding owner of the American Football League that began play in 1960, Bud saw the potential of pro football and brought the game to new cities and new heights of popularity, first in Houston and then in Nashville,” Goodell said in a statement.
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.
“I wanted to be the only pro team,” Adams said in a 2002 interview with The Associated Press.
He won a major battle with the NFL in June 1960, shortly before the AFL’s debut, when a judge ruled Louisiana State Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon _ who signed with the Oilers underneath the goalposts after the Sugar Bowl that year _ was their property despite having later signed with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.