Commentary by Joe Biddle: The man who brought professional football to Tennessee
By Joe Biddle, Columnist
Kenneth Stanley “Bud’’ Adams Jr. lived a full life. He was a true Texan from tooth to toenail.
When he passed away peacefully Monday morning, Bud Adams had worn many, many hats in the world of sports, business and philanthropy.
He was a true Renaissance man. He turned a $25,000 investment, buying an expansion team in the fledgling American Football League, into a NFL franchise worth an estimated $1 billion.
When the Houston mayor refused to build the Oilers a new stadium, Adams moved his team to Nashville. They became the Titans in 1999 when they arrived at what was then Adelphia Coliseum, playing to sellout crowds from day one.
He was never a shrinking violet owner. After beating the Buffalo Bills in 2009, Adams was photographed giving Bills fans two-handed birds from his box and repeated the middle finger salute when he reached the field.
Houston Chronicle writer John McClain covered Adams and the Oilers for years. He knows where all the bones are buried when it comes to Oilers’ history.
McClain said in an interview earlier this week that Adams was widely disliked when he attempted to get the city to build him a stadium, a stadium that was operated by the annual rodeo at the Astrodome.
“People loathed Bud in Houston for two things; he fired (popular coach Bum Phillips) and he moved the team to Tennessee,’’ McClain said.
Adams also brought quarterback Warren Moon from the Canadian Football League to the Oilers. He played for Adams from 1984-1993. He was an owner who had three African-American quarterbacks in Moon, the late Steve McNair and Vince Young.
“He went out on a limb and made me the highest paid player in the league when I came down here,’’ Moon said Monday. “He had a big heart and gave a lot back to his community. He was a very giving guy.’’
Titans Coach Mike Munchak worked for Adams as a player drafted in 1982, a position coach and current head coach.
Munchak remembers being a wide-eyed rookie drafted in the first round. He will never forget going down in the basement of the Oiler’s facility where Adams’ kept his office.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect,’’ Munchak mused Monday. “The office was huge. I had never seen a desk that big. I probably spent an hour with him. It was exciting for me. I thought after I left, I was part of something special.’’
The future of the franchise is in limbo. Two daughters will inherit the franchise, but have shown no inclination in the past toward becoming involved in owning an NFL franchise. If they decide to sell it, grandson Kenneth Adams will likely have the option to continue working for the franchise under new ownership. Son-in-law, Tommy Smith, is a candidate to run the team for the time being.
The biggest regret Adams had was not winning a Super Bowl before he passed.
“The only thing missing was the Lombardi Trophy,’’ Munchak said. “The challenge goes forward, to get him what he has always wanted.’’
I believe the absence of a Super Bowl title is the major reason Adams has not been voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It was something he wanted to cement his legacy, but he never lobbied for it.
It will be a grave injustice if he continues to be ignored by the voters.
One can never write the history of the NFL without including Bud Adams.
Posted on: 10/24/2013