TITANS FOUNDER/OWNER K.S. "BUD" ADAMS, JR. DEAD AT THE AGE OF 90
Nashville, TN -Oct. 21, 2013 -Tennessee Titans/Oilers founder
and owner K.S. "Bud" Adams, Jr. passed away peacefully from natural
causes at his home this morning in Houston.
Funeral information will be available in the coming days.
In his 54 years as Founder,
Owner, Chairman of the Board, President and CEO of the Titans/Oilers
franchise, K.S. "Bud" Adams, Jr. was an enduring figure in the NFL.
As one of the original team owners and co-founder of the American
Football League, he guided his franchise to new heights since
relocating to Nashville in 1997, posting six playoff appearances,
including an AFC Championship (1999), AFC Central title (2000), two
AFC South titles (2002 & 2008), AFC Championship appearance (2002)
and Wild Card teams in 2003 and 2007.
His success and longevity led him to accumulate more wins than any
other current NFL owner (409) at the time of his passing. He saw his
400th career win (regular season and playoffs) in the 2011 season
finale at Houston as the Titans defeated the Texans. Consistently
fielding winning teams, the franchise earned 21 playoff appearances
in 53 seasons, a total that ranks eighth among NFL teams since 1960.
A native of Bartlesville, Okla., Adams' interest in sports was first
displayed while at Culver Military Academy, where he earned letters
in football, basketball and baseball. Upon graduation from Culver in
1940, Adams attended Menlo College (Calif.), lettering in both rugby
and football. Adams then transferred to the engineering school at
the University of Kansas where he also lettered in football for the
Jayhawks. During his days at KU, Adams met his future wife Nancy
Neville and began his loyal affiliation with Sigma Chi Fraternity.
In 1942, while still in school at KU, Adams joined the U.S. Naval
Reserve. In July 1943, he was called to active duty in the Navy's
V-12 college program, which allowed him to continue in school. In
early 1944, he received orders to report to Midshipman Officer
Specialty School at Notre Dame where he earned his Navy ensign
commission in an accelerated 60-day program. He was sent overseas
and was assigned to a PAC-Fleet carrier unit, where he served as an
aviation engineering officer. He returned to the U.S. in December
1945. Lt. j.g. Adams served as an aide in the U.S. Navy's
Congressional Liaison Office in Washington, D.C. prior to his
discharge in 1946.
Adams parlayed a 1946 chance stop in Houston, resulting from fog
that grounded his plane, into a highly successful and diversified
business empire which ranks him among the most prominent businessmen
in the country.
In 1946, Adams started ADA Oil Company, which was a forerunner of
the publicly-held American Stock Exchange-listed Adams Resources &
Energy, Inc. (AE), an energy company engaged in the business of
marketing crude oil, natural gas and petroleum products; tank truck
transportation of liquid chemicals; and oil and gas exploration and
production. Adams' other business interests included extensive
farming and ranching in California and Texas, cattle feeding, real
estate, automobile dealerships and leasing. He was a longtime
collector of Western art and Native American artifacts.
During his early business career, Adams, a year-round sports fan,
was an avid sponsor of amateur and AAU teams in basketball and
softball. His ADA Oilers were a perennial power in the National
Industrial Basketball League in the '50s, capturing third place in
the national AAU tournament in 1956. His interest in sports was
further evidenced by past ownership participation in professional
baseball, basketball and boxing.
Football history was made in Adams' office in Houston on Aug. 3,
1959, where he and Lamar Hunt held a press conference to announce
the formation of the new American Football League, which would begin
playing in 1960. Hunt would have a team in Dallas, Adams would have
a team in Houston, and other teams would be forthcoming.
In his six decades as owner, the hardworking and aggressive Adams
made professional football history numerous times. In 1968, Adams'
Oilers became the first AFL/NFL team to play its home games indoors
by moving into Houston's Astrodome. A team rich in tradition and
pride, the Oilers were the dominant team in the American Football
League during the 10-year era (1960-69), playing in the championship
game four times (1960, 1961, 1962, 1967) - and winning twice
consecutively (1960, 1961); earning four AFL Eastern Division
Championships (1960, 1961, 1962, 1967); and making the playoffs five
years out of 10 (1960, 1961, 1962, 1967, 1969). In 1970, the AFL
merged into the expanded NFL, and Adams' teams made the playoffs 16
additional times (1978, 1979, 1980, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991,
1992, 1993, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2007, 2008). In fact, the Oilers'
streak of seven consecutive playoff appearances (1987-93) was the
longest streak in the NFL during that time span. In 2008, the
franchise posted the best record in the NFL (13-3), while capturing
its fifth division title and second AFC South crown (2002) after
winning the AFC Central division in 1991, 1993 and 2000.
Always fearless in his decisions, Adams consistently made
significant moves that have improved his franchise or the league as
a whole. Even from the very beginning, he was the man Lamar Hunt
approached first when forming the AFL. As the league started, Adams
boldly signed players from the NFL (George Blanda) and poached
others who chose the AFL over the NFL (Billy Cannon). Through the
years, he found ways to acquire Hall of Fame talent - trading for a
centerpiece of the defense in Curly Culp in 1974, trading four
first-round picks to draft Earl Campbell in 1978, winning a bidding
war for CFL star Warren Moon in 1984 and using back-to-back
first-round picks in 1982 and '83 to draft Mike Munchak and Bruce
Matthews. Adams' franchise also was the first in the AFL/NFL to play
their games in an indoor stadium in 1968. His teams also became a
platform for diversity as 26 of the team's 54 years have featured an
African-American quarterback. Those quarterbacks (Moon, McNair,
Young) combined to earn 13 playoff appearances, 11 Pro Bowls, an NFL
Co-MVP (McNair, 2003), NFL Offensive Player of the Year honors
(Moon, 1990), NFL Rookie of the Year (Young, 2006) and became the
first and only African-American quarterback selected to the Pro
Football Hall of Fame (Moon, 2006).
The Houston Oilers played their final season in 1996 at the Houston
Astrodome. In 1997, Adams led the National Football League into the
Mid-South region, the last untapped area without a major
professional sport. That feat allowed his team to be the first NFL
franchise to call "the Volunteer State" home. During construction of
the stadium in Nashville, the Tennessee Oilers played the 1997
season at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis, and the 1998 season at
Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville.
On July 29, 1998, Adams announced that the Oilers' name would be
changed beginning with the 1999 season. The Oilers' name was retired
by the NFL - a first in league history - allowing the Tennessee
franchise to retain the team's winning tradition, and launching a
new era in the Mid-South.
The Tennessee Titans made their debut in 1999, in what is now called
LP Field. In Greek mythology, Titans were gods of strength and
power. The Titan Prometheus brought fire to man, and the new
Tennessee Titans brought fire to the football fans in the Mid-South
during a very memorable inaugural season, unveiling a new name,
stadium, training facility, logo, uniform and colors.
In 15 seasons as the Titans, the franchise won the American Football
Conference Championship for the 1999 season (culminating in a trip
to Super Bowl XXXIV in Atlanta, where the Titans were defeated by
the Rams in one of the most exciting games in Super Bowl history),
captured the AFC Central Division Championship (2000) and AFC South
Division Championships (2002, 2008), built an enormous home field
advantage (71-45 record at home) and the loyalty of millions of fans
across the nation and throughout the world. The popularity of the
Titans has translated into 150 consecutive sell-outs at LP Field.
During Adams' illustrious career, 67 of his players were Pro Bowl
selections, including one AFL Most Valuable Player, two NFL MVP's
and five offensive or defensive Rookies of the Year. Also, nine of
Adams' players, including Curley Culp this year, were inducted into
the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio. In each of the past
eight seasons, Adams was nominated for the Pro Football Hall of Fame
as a special contributor. In recognition of the 40th season of the
Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans organization, Adams created an
official team Hall of Fame and Ring of Honor that features players
and staff from the past, while creating a special place for Titans
stars of the future to be recognized.
Adams served on several prominent NFL committees, including the
NFL's Finance, Hall of Fame, Legislative and Audit Committees; and
was a Trustee for the NFL Trust. Very active in national, state and
local programs, Adams is on the Board of Directors of the Cherokee
Indian National Historical Society; the Board of Trustees of the Pro
Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio; the Board of Directors of the
Boy Scouts of America - Sam Houston Area Council; and a Lifetime
Director of The Hundred Club in Houston. He is a Governor Emeritus
of the Sigma Chi Fraternity Foundation; an Emeritus Trustee of the
Culver Educational Foundation; and a Lifetime Director of the
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. In Tennessee, he was on the Board
of Directors of the Middle Tennessee Council of the Boy Scouts of
America; was a member of the Nashville Chamber of Commerce; and was
on the Board of Trust of the 100 Club of Nashville.
Adams has received numerous awards through the years. In 2012, he
was the recipient of the inaugural "Salute to Service" award by the
NFL for his work with the military through the years. He also
received an honorary Doctorate from Menlo College, where he started
his college career.
In 2011, Adams was honored with the Lifetime Humanitarian Award by
the T.J. Martell Foundation. In February 2010, he was inducted into
the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. In 2008, he was awarded the inaugural
Lamar Hunt Award for Professional Football by the Committee of 101.
The award honors those of visionary leadership who have helped the
NFL reach preeminent status and was given jointly to the "Foolish
Club," the original founders of the AFL. Also in 2008, Adams and his
wife, Nancy, were inducted into Baptist Hospital's Seton Society for
excellence in their profession and service to the hospital. In
October 2006, he was inducted into the Menlo College Athletic Hall
of Fame. In February 2006, he was inducted into the Tennessee Sports
Hall of Fame, becoming the first member of the organization to enter
the state hall. In June 2005, he was given the Jack Smith Leadership
Award recognizing his West Point Buick dealership in Houston as
Dealer of the Year. Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen appointed him
Colonel Aide de Camp for the State of Tennessee in October 2004. The
Tennessee General Assembly honored him and the Titans at the State
Capitol in March 2001. He was awarded the Community Spirit Award by
the Nashville Sports Council at the Third Annual American General
Dinner of Champions in February 2001; was honored by the Cherokee
National Historical Society at a dinner at the Gilcrease Museum in
Tulsa, Okla., in September 2000; was honored at Tennessee State
University in August 2000; was the recipient of the Lamar Hunt
Outstanding Pro Football Executive Award for the year 2000 from the
All-American Football Foundation; and in March 2000, he received the
National Multiple Sclerosis Society's Silver Hope Chest Award in
Nashville. In 1997, he was honored by Sigma Chi Fraternity with a
formal portrait and bust on permanent display in the foyer and
museum of their Evanston, Ill., headquarters. He was inducted into
Culver Academy's Athletic Hall of Fame in the inaugural class in
1994. In 1991, he was given the Order of Constantine from Sigma Chi,
which is the highest honor that fraternity can bestow. In 1990, he
was given Sigma Chi Foundation's Semi-Centennial Award.
Other noteworthy honors bestowed upon Adams in the past included the
1988 prestigious "Golden Buckle Award" from the Greater Houston
Convention and Visitors Bureau; and the 1987 Distinguished American
Award, presented jointly by the Houston Chapter of the National
Football Hall of Fame and the Houston Athletic Committee (Chamber of
Commerce). He was named 1983 "King Capon" by Bill Williams' Annual
Capon Charity Dinner, Inc.; 1981 "Man of the Year" by Culver
Military Academy; 1981 "Outstanding Chief Executive Officer" by
Financial World Magazine; 1980 "Distinguished Alumnus" by California
Community and Junior College Association; 1969 "Westerner of the
Year" by the Houston Farm and Ranch Club; 1963 "Significant Sig" by
Sigma Chi Fraternity; 1961 "Mr. Sportsman" by the Interfaith Charity
Group; and 1960 "Houston Salesman of the Year" by the Houston Sales
Adams and his wife Nancy were married for 62 years before her
passing in February of 2009. They raised two daughters, Susie Smith
and Amy Strunk, and a son, Kenneth S. Adams III, who is deceased.
Adams had seven grandchildren.