A tale of one NFL franchise under two different nicknames and based in two cities, the Houston Oilers, as they were known from 1960-1996 before taking on the name Tennessee Oilers for two seasons until they finally made Nashville, Tennessee their permanent home in 1999, adopting the name Titans to signify Nashville’s status as the ‘Athens of the South.’
In 1960, Bud Adams founded the Houston Oilers, where they won the first two AFL Championship Games before losing in the third to the Dallas Texans in 1962.
The Oilers lost another AFL Championship game in 1967 to the Oakland Raiders, and this would be the last time the Oilers saw a championship game of any kind, but their existence didn’t come without some high notes.
After missing the playoffs for eleven straight seasons, the Oilers emerged as Super Bowl contenders in 1978, where at the time the road to the Super Bowl went through Pittsburgh. It was in Pittsburgh that the team fell to the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game in both 1978 and 1979.
Another decade of lean seasons followed until the mid-1980s when Warren Moon took over at quarterback for the downtrodden franchise. A Canadian Football League sensation who won five titles with the Edmonton Eskimos, Moon took over the reins in 1984. By 1987, he led the team to seven straight playoff appearances, the most notable being that turbulent season in 1993.
Sadly, the Oilers never advanced past the AFC’s Divisional Round of the Playoffs and after 1993, owner Bud Adams dismantled the team. By 1995, there was talk of the team leaving Houston for Nashville as Adams failed to convince city officials to fund a new stadium to replace Houston’s dated but beloved Astrodome.
After playing in front of crowds of less than 20,000 at times in 1996, when the Oilers and City of Houston suffered a bitter divorce, the team moved to Tennessee prematurely, playing in college stadiums in the City of Memphis while their new stadium was being built in Nashville.
As the team’s successor, the Houston Texans, were founded the same season but wouldn’t debut into 2002, the newly christened Tennessee Titans played in the franchise’s first Super Bowl in their first season in Nashville in a losing effort to the then-St. Louis Rams in a game that came down to the final play.
The Titans saw a few more good seasons until 2003 before struggles began, losing to the Oakland Raiders in the 2002 AFC Championship Game.
Tennessee did win an AFC South Title in 2008, but lost in the AFC Divisional Round to the Baltimore Ravens.
The Titans entered a permanent state of mediocrity starting in 2009, never to make another playoff appearance until 2016, when they defeated the Kansas City Chiefs before falling to the New England Patriots.
Tennessee Titans Quick hits
1959 (as the Houston Oilers)
Nissan Stadium, Nashville, Tennessee
Navy blue, Titans blue, red, silver, white
2 (as Houston Oilers)
Earl Campbell, Steve McNair, Eddie George, Bruce Matthews, Jevon Kearse
Shares historic rivalries with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Cleveland Browns, and Cincinnati Bengals of the AFC North.
Main Article: The Tennessee Titans Helmet History
Main Article: History of the Tennesse Titans Jersey