The reign of the Tennessee Titans, formerly known as the Houston Oilers, has spanned two states, two leagues and decades of thrilling games.
The Oilers were created in 1960 as a member of the brand-new American Football League (AFL). Their early years were explosive -- they won two AFL championships in their first two campaigns, and in '61, they became the first professional team to score over 500 points in a season. After a brief slump, they delivered an impressive comeback in the late '60s, becoming the first squad to jump from the cellar --tied for last place in the league -- to division champions in one season.
After the AFL /NFL merger, the late '70s and early '80s saw the Oilers consistently coming oh-so-close to the league's most coveted prize. For three straight seasons, they reached the playoffs, only to be eliminated by the team that would go on to win the Super Bowl. And from the late ‘80s into the ‘90s, quarterback Warren Moon and wide receiver Haywood Jeffires led the team to the playoffs seven years running.
A major transition occurred in 1995, when owner "Bud" Adams began negotiating with Nashville mayor Phil Bredesen to relocate the Oilers. Eager to woo its first NFL team, Music City began construction on a lavish new stadium, and the Oilers said goodbye to Houston two years later. They played two seasons as the Tennessee Oilers, first at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis and then at Nashville's Vanderbilt Stadium, while waiting for construction on their new home base to wrap up.
By 1999, the team had a new stadium and a new identity: the Tennessee Titans. "We wanted a new nickname to reflect strength, leadership and other heroic qualities," said Adams. And indeed, the team was given a heroes' welcome, with the Adelphia Coliseum (now known as LP Field) selling out year after year. By 2015, the sellout streak was still going strong.
It's no wonder the fans love their team so much -- the Titans go above and beyond when it comes to community engagement. Players make weekly special appearances at local hospitals and schools on every "Titans Tuesday," and the squad hosts an annual 5K race. Who wouldn't want the chance to run alongside their gridiron idols?
It helps that the Titans' prowess on the field has lived up to their new moniker. The climax of the '99 season came with the AFC Wild Card game against the Buffalo Bills. Down by a point with 16 seconds left in the game, wide receiver Kevin Dyson caught a lateral pass from tight end Frank Wycheck, then ran 75 yards to score a winning touchdown with only three seconds remaining. The widely celebrated play became known as the "Music City Miracle" and enabled the Titans to advance all the way to their first Super Bowl, which they ultimately lost to the St. Louis Rams.
Tennessee and the Titans proved to be the perfect partnership. Fans happily fill LP Field with their echoing cheers, and the team delivers game after game of great football while doing everything they can to give back to the community.