Forgotten Franchises: The AFL’s & NFL’s Houston Oilers

The Houston Oilers were a charter member of the American Football League, which began play in 1960. The NFL took the AFL seriously enough that they intended to expand into Dallas and Houston for 1960, thus potentially taking away two of the prime locations for the AFL. Dallas did get the Cowboys, but the NFL put the second team off for a year, and put the team in Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Houston Oilers Logo
The Oilers were the class of the early AFL years, winning the first two championships and losing the third to the Dallas Texans (who had played their last game as the Texans… But I’ll save that story for another “Forgotten Franchises” post).    The Oilers would play in the 1967 AFL Championship, getting blown out by the Raiders, 40-7.  The Oilers didn’t score their 7 points until the 4th quarter, by which point they had been down 30-0.  The Raiders went on to play in Super Bowl II, while the Oilers would never play in another championship game, neither AFL Championship nor Super Bowl.

1971 Topps Football Ken Houston

Despite the lack of championships beyond the early 1960’s, there were a number of Pro Football Hall-of-famers who played for the Oilers, including Curley Culp, Elvin Bethea, George Blanda, Earl Campbell, Ken Houston, Warren Moon and Mike Munchak.

After researching this post, it seems to me that Oilers owner Bud Adams made a hobby out of threatening to leave Houston. In 1967 he made threats about moving to Seattle if season ticket sales did not improve. This was well before Seattle was granted an expansion team which would become the Seahawks.

1975 Topps Football Dan Pastorini

In 1987, Adams made noise about moving to Jacksonville. They eventually got concessions from Houston which resulted in $100 Million in upgrades to the Astrodome, but it wasn’t long before Bud Adams became dissatisfied with what he had. After the 1995 season, it was announced that the Oilers will be moving to Tennessee.

The team spent a lame duck season in Houston and spent one season in Memphis before moving to Nashville. After playing two seasons as the Tennessee Oilers, the team renamed itself the Tennessee Titans.

1982 Topps Football Vernon Perry

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3 thoughts on “Forgotten Franchises: The AFL’s & NFL’s Houston Oilers

  1. A correction to your post: The Oilers played in the 1967 AFL championship game, losing badly (40-7) to the Raiders and missing a chance to play in Super Bowl II.

  2. just came across you blog. I appreciate your point of view when it comes to the team. I am an avid hockey fan but also a fan of business entrepreneurs like Daryl Katz. His family pharmacy empire grew tenfold under his direction and management. He paid $200 million for the Edmonton Oilers . in 2008 and he is currently working to refocus his efforts to build Canada’s largest mixed use-sports and entertainment district. He is by far one of the most successful businessmen in North America. I am looking forward to seeing how he helps to take this team to the next level and what is next venture will be. He is really focusing on helping Edmonton become a fantastic tourist destination.

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