Bud Adams' tenure left many memories in Nashville with Tennessee Titans

Most of the chapters in the life of Titans owner Bud Adams played out in Houston, where he co-founded the American Football League and ran the Oilers for so many years.

Later in life, after electing to move his NFL franchise to Tennessee, Adams made a lasting impression in Nashville as well.

Adams died Monday at the age of 90. He was in his 54th season as owner of the franchise.

Here's a look at some of his most memorable moments in Tennessee.

Striking Oil

Adams officially signed papers to move the Oilers to Tennessee in November 1995. After presenting Nashville Mayor Phil Bredesen a jersey, Adams said he planned to change the team's name before a fired-up crowd.

"The Oilers didn't seem to be the right name for Tennessee, unless someone knows a place around here where some oil might be coming out of the ground," Adams said at the Davidson County Courthouse foyer. "This is going to be Tennessee's team."

Adams, 72 at the time, said he wanted to play in Memphis for two seasons, beginning in 1997, before a downtown stadium could be built in Nashville in 1999. It was a proud day for Adams, and the city.

At a packed courthouse, one man yelled, "This Bud's for you! " as Adams signed the agreement.

Adams smiled as he shouted to the crowd, "Are y'all ready for some football?"

Failed experiment

Adams made plenty of successful business decisions in his life, but playing at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis wasn't one of them.

Fans didn't show up for games at the Liberty Bowl in 1997. Most attendances were in the teens.

The biggest crowd of the year came on Dec. 21, 1997, when the Tennessee Oilers played the Steelers, but the majority of the fans showed up decked out in the black and yellow of the Steelers. The Oilers were booed.

An upset Adams seethed. He'd seen enough. Two months later, the Oilers reached an agreement to be play at Vanderbilt Stadium for the 1998 season.

"VY is my guy"

With his home in Houston, Adams saw Vince Young's star begin to rise as a prep star in the city. When he starred at the University of Texas, he heard all about it.

So when it came time for the Titans to pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, Adams made it clear to general manager Floyd Reese and coach Jeff Fisher, "V.Y. is my guy."

They honored his wish, selecting Young third overall.

"When Vince plays is up to the coaches," Adams said. "But once he gets into the lineup, he's going to give defenses hell for a long time. We expect him to play at least 10 years for us."

Just a few weeks into the season, however, Adams told Fisher he wanted him to start. He gave the same orders in 2009, when the Titans started 0-6.

Young was 30-17 as a starter with the Titans, but he was eventually released because of the headaches that came with him.

Proud moment

Adams had waited a lifetime to see his team play in a Super Bowl, and in January 2000, he finally made it.

At the age of 77, Adams stood at a podium in Atlanta at Super Bowl XXXIV for nearly an hour, telling stories about the old days in the AFL and his favorite players along the way.

Wearing an overcoat and scarf, Adams was beaming.

Just a week earlier, he'd been presented the Lamar Hunt AFC Championship trophy in Jacksonville by none other than Lamar Hunt, the Chiefs owner he co-founded the AFL with back in 1959.

"I always said, 'We're going to get there someday,' " Adams said, "but I'm getting up there in years. I was hoping I wouldn't have to wheel up to the Super Bowl."

Costly gesture

Adams had a blast during a November 2009 game against the Bills. He ended up having a little bit too much fun.

From his owner's suite, Adams made an obscene gesture at the Bills sideline during the second half of his team's 41-17 win. Once he got to the field, after initially flashing a "Hook 'em horns" sign to fans, Adams repeated the obscene gesture toward the Buffalo sideline. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell happened to be among those in attendance that day.

He wasn't amused. Adams was fined $250,000 by the league.

So long, Mike

Back in the day, Adams didn't hesitate to make drastic changes.

While in Houston, he fired Bum Phillips in 1980 despite the fact he'd taken three consecutive teams to the playoffs.

Titans fans got to see his ruthless side in January, when he fired senior executive VP and Chief Operating Officer Mike Reinfeldt a day after the 2012 season. Reinfeldt found out about his dismissal after Adams informed The Tennessean of his decision.

"He has two more years to go on his contract, but I think we'd be better off without him," Adams said. "I don't think he was getting the job done. Mike Reinfeldt is out."

Adams: I want Peyton

Adams saw a prize in free agency in March 2012 — quarterback Peyton Manning. And he wanted his employees to go get him.

When Adams thought Reinfeldt was dragging his feet in the pursuit, he let everyone know about his plan.

"He is the man I want. Period," Adams told The Tennessean. "And the people that work for me understand that. They know who I want. I want Mr. Manning with the Titans, and I will be disappointed if it doesn't happen."

The Titans ended up pursuing the four-time MVP, and Adams even offered him a "lifetime contract." But the Titans ultimately lost out to the Broncos. Adams felt like Reinfeldt didn't react fast enough in the beginning, and it's one of the main reasons he fired him.

Giving back

Adams didn't get nearly enough attention for his good deeds in the Nashville community, which happened behind the scenes.

Adams regularly opened up his checkbook to help out.

In 2009, Adams and his late wife, Nancy, donated $500,000 to Baptist Hospital, which is now St. Thomas. He donated $400,000 for recovery efforts after the Nashville flood in 2010, and in 1998, Adams teamed with NFL Charities to donate $200,000 to help families in East Nashville after a damaging tornado. Adams and his wife contributed to countless charities in the Midstate.

Since the Titans moved to Tennessee, local charities have seen approximately $20 million flow into their organizations because of the Titans and the NFL.

Mr. Ultimatum

Adams didn't hesitate to light a fire under his employees, and he didn't mind making it known in the press. It was hardly a one-time occurrence.

After three straight 8-8 seasons, Adams gave Fisher and Reese a "playoffs or pink slips" pep talk before the 1999 season, which ended with a trip to the Super Bowl.

In 2002, he told The Tennessean he thought the Titans were "getting outcoached" after a 1-4 start. The Titans won 10 of their next 11 games that year. After a 51-20 loss to the Bears last season, Adams sounded off about Mike Munchak's team, saying they were "grossly outcoached and outplayed.

The Titans won the following week, but finished 6-10 last season.

Hall of Fame moment

At the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio, back in 2009, Adams was in football heaven.

Not only were the Titans decked out in the baby blue uniforms that reminded him of his old Oilers, Buffalo was the opponent, owned by Ralph Wilson, one of the original members of the AFL's "Foolish Club," with Adams.

Show me the $

Coming off a 6-10 season in 2012, Adams went on an unprecedented spending spree this offseason.

He told General Manager Ruston Webster money wasn't an issue, to go get more quality players. He wanted to turn the fortunes of the franchise around. The Titans spent well over $100 million on free agents, including guard Andy Levitre ($46.8 million) and tight end Delanie Walker ($17.5 million).

"There are certain guys we may have to pay a little more than they should maybe be getting, but I want to win,'' Adams said. "I'm 90 years old, I'd like to get in the playoffs and see some winning football."

After starting 3-1 in 2013, the Titans have lost three straight and are 3-4. Compared to a year ago, however, the Titans appear to be much improved.


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