The Houston Oilers were a franchise based in Houston, Texas from 1960 to 1996, in case my younger readers are confused as to who the Oilers were. This article examines the Houston Oilers logo history separately from their spiritual successors, the Tennessee Titans, whose logo history can be accessed here.
I’ll attach the team’s logo history through both the Titans and the Houston Texans as I personally feel the Oilers’ history should be returned to the City of Houston but as the team’s history legally remains with the Titans, I’ll place the team’s logo history on each for the time being.
So, this article is going to cover both the Houston and Tennessee Oilers, who played from 1997-1998 in Memphis prior to moving to Nashville, Tennessee and becoming the team we all know today as the Tennessee Titans.
When the team was founded in 1960, their first logo depicted a roughneck dressed in a Columbia blue jumpsuit. His torso bore gold numbers, he carried a gold football, sported gold boots, and a gold ten-gallon hat.
In 1961, this logo changed to a more traditional-looking roughneck. The gold on the new logo became white and instead of a ten-gallon, he wore a white hardhat.
In 1969, the primary logo changed to a roughneck wearing a white Oilers helmet with a black oil derrick for the logo and in 1972, the coloring on this helmet changed to better reflect the Oilers – a white helmet, red derrick with a white and blue outline (an inverse of the team’s logo), and the helmet was outlined in blue.
Finally, in 1980, the familiar blue oil derrick outlined in white and red became the primary.
I want to go over the helmet history briefly as well.
In 1960, the team sported Columbia blue helmets with a white crown stripe along with a white oil derrick. In 1964, red was added to the helmet striping.
1966 brought a major change as the helmet changed to gray and the derrick to blue with white outlining. Blue was added to the helmet striping. The logo was further outlined with red starting in 1967, similar to the team’s final primary logo. A brief change to the helmet striping was made in 1971.
In 1972, the team switched back to Columbia blue helmets with a white oil derrick outlined in red. Red also filled the space in between the derrick.
Finally, in 1975 the Oilers adopted the white helmet and in 1980, switched from a gray to a red facemask. This helmet remained with the team throughout the remainder of their time in Houston, though they would bring back Columbia blue helmets for throwback weekends in 1994.
In 2009, the Tennessee Titans brought back the Columbia blue helmets for a throwback during special weekends to celebrate the AFL’s 50th anniversary.
Alternate and Anniversary Logos
The Oilers had one anniversary logo that came about in 1994 to celebrate the team’s 25th anniversary.
The Tennessee Oilers unveiled a secondary logo to coincide with their migration from Houston. Since their future stadium was yet to be completed, the team often played in front of sparse crowds in Memphis. To attempt to connect with the State of Tennessee, this logo consisted of an oil derrick in front of a red field, under which read ‘Tennessee Oilers.’ Three stars within a navy blue circle appeared to the team’s left – the first and only hint of navy blue to ever appear in any Oilers’ logo.
The alternate logo is interesting, as it served as a precursor to the team’s future color scheme, which is now dominant with navy blue as of 2018, and their future logo, as three stars appear on the Titans’ primary and alternate logo, with the alternate displaying an identical color and slightly altered placement of the stars.
Nostalgia is building for a return of a Houston Oilers throwback…in Houston…where former Texans receiver DeAndre Hopkins photoshopped himself in an Oilers’ uniform and shared it on Instagram to the delight of Houston’s faithful. The uniform was really a Texans uniform shopped in Oilers colors.
J.J. Watt and DeShaun Watson also expressed interest in wearing the look, with Watt being seen sporting an Earl Campbell jersey and Watson has regularly worn a Warren Moon jersey.
However, Titans’ owner Amy Adams Strunk – daughter of Oilers’ founder Bud Adams – has refused to grant the Texans permission to wear the look. This has likely added fuel to one of the NFL’s most underrated, yet one of the league’s most intense, rivalries.
Related: Houston Texans Helmet History
With the NFL’s one-helmet rule in perhaps its final season in 2020, it’s highly likely to see either the Titans or Texans sporting the look in 2021 or beyond – most likely the Titans unless an agreement is reached between the Adams and McNair families to return the logos, colors, and history to Houston –
Much like the New Orleans Pelicans did to the Charlotte Hornets in the NBA after the Pelicans (the original Charlotte Hornets) changed their name prior to the 2013-2014 season. This prompted Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan to reclaim the rights to the Hornets’ name, colors, and history.
As a result, the Pelicans are considered to have been founded in 2002 as the New Orleans Hornets. The Charlotte Hornets are considered once again to have been founded in 1988, suspended operations from 2002-2004, and re-emerged as the Bobcats from the 2004-2005 season until the 2013-2014 season, where they again became known as the Hornets.
It’s definitely no secret that the XFL’s Houston Roughnecks were inspired by the Houston Oilers both in the name – as a roughneck and an oiler are interchangeable terms, but also due to the similarities between the Oilers’ logo and the Roughnecks’ logo.
Like the Oilers, the Roughnecks sport an oil derrick that depicts a red star atop the logo as a nod to the State of Texas, known as the Lone Star State. Also a red letter ‘H’ rides its way up the logo as well, which is outlined in navy blue.
While the team’s logo bears resemblance to the Oilers, their color scheme is more similar to that of the Houston Texans.
Click here to see the similarities between the Oilers’ and Roughnecks’ logos.
And as always if you have any questions or comments surrounding the great logo of the Houston Oilers, feel free to comment. And as always, did I miss something or make an error? If so, I want to know! Feel free to tell me if I missed anything in the comments section and I’ll be happy to take you up on your inquiry.