clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

New York Jets Throwback Thursday: How Did the Oilers become the Titans?

He probably didn't slide

Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The New York Jets go way back with the Tennessee Titans, or should I say the New York Titans and the Houston Oilers. These two teams met for the first time on October 9th, 1960 in Houston, a 27-21 Oilers victory. The Oilers competed in the AFL's East Division along with New York, so these two teams have met rather frequently over the last 55 years. Tennessee currently has the edge in record with 24 wins, 18 losses, and 1 tie against New York. Other than the Oilers 17-10 victory over the Jets in the 1991 AFC Wild Card Game, it could be argued that this franchise's most important "victory" against the Jets was a 16-11 loss last season, which put them in prime position to draft Marcus Mariota.

I always enjoy learning about how and why teams changed locations and team names, so since there are few noteworthy Jets-Titans moments, I'll share the story behind how the Houston Oilers became the Tennessee Titans in this week's throwback.

The Oilers were actually the first champions of the AFL, winning back-to-back titles in 1960 and 1961. They have not won another championship since. After a relatively dormant 30 years, the Oilers briefly rose to become a league power once again in the early 1990s. In 1991, Houston won its first division title in 25 years, but lost to the John Elway-led Broncos in the Divisional round on a last second field goal. The following year, the Oilers again found themselves in the playoffs but blew a 35-3 lead (!) to the Buffalo Bills in the Wild Card round. That is an NFL record that may never be broken.

Owner Bud Adams traded Quarterback Warren Moon to the Vikings two seasons later after becoming frustrated with his team's failed success in the playoffs. At the same time in 1995, Adams lobbied for a new stadium in Houston, one that would provide club seating and additional methods to bring in revenue. Mayor Bob Lanier promptly turned that down, so Adams began shopping his team to new locations.

Intrigued by the city of Nashville, Adams began talks with mayor Phil Bredesen, who promised his city would contribute $144 million toward a new stadium. At the end of the 1995 season, Adams announced the Oilers would be moving permanently to Tennessee. The Oilers actually played their first season in Memphis while the new stadium was being built in Nashville. The Oilers changed their name to the Titans because, according to Adams, "We wanted a new nickname to reflect strength, leadership, and other heroic qualities". The Titans have enjoyed more success than the Oilers, winning the AFC South in 2002 and 2008, and also making the playoffs in 2000, 2003, and 2007. Ryan Fitzpatrick will look to continue his great stretch against his former team on Sunday.