Kenneth Stanley “Bud” Adams Jr., the Tennessee Titans owner who has been a significant figure in professional football for more than half a century, has died at the age of 90.
Adams, who founded the Houston Oilers at the outset of the American Football League, had owned his franchise longer than any other current NFL owner, a few months ahead of fellow AFL originator Ralph Wilson of the Bills. Adams owned the team in Houston from 1960 until 1996, then moved the franchise to Tennessee in 1997.
Multiple media outlets reported on Monday morning that Adams has died of natural causes. The Titans confirmed Adams’ death on Monday afternoon.
After the franchise achieved its 400th win at the end of the 2011 season, Adams liked to point out that he had more victories than any other current owner. He also wasn’t shy about expressing his opinions about football matters, heaping praise on his team when it did well and openly criticizing coaches when the team wasn’t up to standards. He was even known to get into it with fans a time or two.
Adams grew up in Okalahoma and played college football for the Kansas Jayhawks before serving in the Navy during World War II. After getting into the oil business in the 1940s, Adams began to express interest in owning a professional football team. An attempt to purchase the Chicago Cardinals didn’t pan out, and that’s when Adams turned his attention toward joining with other businessmen to start the AFL. That group of businessmen went from a thorn in the side of the NFL to major drivers of the growth of pro football, and Adams will be remembered as a man who helped shape the sport through six decades.