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Nov 9, 2020

We consult a higher authority this week to help us dig into the story of the NFL's former Houston Oilers - one of the American Football League's founding franchises in 1960, and the predecessor to today's Nashville-based Tennessee Titans.
Before decamping for divinity school in the late 1990s and a second career as a vicar in the US Anglican church, Fr. Ed Fowler ("Loser Takes All: Bud Adams, Bad Football & Big Business") spent over 30 years as both a writer and columnist for sports sections at major newspapers such as the Austin American-Statesman, Kansas City Star, Chicago Daily News, and finally, the Houston Chronicle - where he spilled plenty of ink on the trials and tribulations of Houston's first professional football team.
The Oilers were owned throughout their existence by Houston oil industry entrepreneur Bud Adams - and dominated the AFL's early years by winning titles in 1960 and 1961, and barely missing out on a third (a double-OT loss to the Dallas Texans in the 1962 AFL Championship Game).
Post-merger, the Oilers spent the bulk of the '70s as NFL also-rans until the coach "Bum" Phillips-led "Luv Ya Blue" era (1978-80), that netted two straight (though losing) AFC Championship Game appearances and featured stars like Elvin Bethea, Billy "White Shoes" Johnson and rookie RB sensation Earl Campbell.
Though the team consistently made the playoffs from 1987-93 behind the QB wizardry of CFL star Warren Moon, the Oilers posted losing records in virtually every season otherwise.

Adams, who first threatened to move the team in the late 1980s, followed through at the end of the 1996 season and relocated the Oilers to Tennessee - where they became the "Tennessee Oilers" for the 1997 (Memphis) and 1998 (Vanderbilt Stadium) seasons, before permanently converting to the "Titans" in 1999. 

The Titans retained the team's previous history and records, and the Oilers name was officially retired by then-league Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, preventing the name from ever returning. 

The NFL would return to Houston just three years later with a new franchise, the Texans.