One of the original founders of the American Football League in 1960, Tennessee Titans owner K.S. “Bud” Adams, Jr. ’40 has passed away at the age of 90 of natural causes. The team made the announcement Monday. Adams was the longest tenured owner in the National Football League.
The Titans were founded as the Houston Oilers. Just two days before Adams’ passing, Oail Andrew “Bum” Phillips, the longtime Houston Oilers coach, died at the age of 90.
Fifty-four years ago, two Texas businessmen with Culver connections – ‘Bud’ Adams and Lamar Hunt W’42 – announced the formation of the American Football League. Both had tried to buy NFL franchises but had their offers rejected. By 1970, the AFL and NFL merged. Adams pursued his passion for football every day until his passing.
According to the NFL, Adams presided over more wins with his organization (409) than any current owner. Most of those wins came in Houston, where Adams’ Oilers won the first two AFL titles in 1960 and 1961 before losing the ’62 title to Hunt’s Dallas Texans (now the Kansas City Chiefs). Adams’ teams made the playoffs 21 times.
A World War II veteran, Adams made the Oilers the first football team to play indoors, calling the Houston Astrodome home. The Oilers played there until 1997, when Adams moved the organization to Tennessee, ending a contentious relationship with the city of Houston over a new stadium.
Adams and Hunt are both in the Culver Athletic Hall of Fame. They are among a group of Culver Military graduates who became professional team owners. That group included George Steinbrenner ’48 of the New York Yankees, Walter F. O’Malley ’22 of the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, and Louis Nippert ’22 of the Cincinnati Reds (who was also a limited owner of the Bengals).
Adams and his wife Nancy were married for 62 years before her passing in February of 2009. He is survived by two daughters, Susie Smith and Amy Strunk. Adams’ only son, Kenneth S. Adams III, is deceased.