On Feb. 5, reporter Jason Wolf of The Tennessean published an intriguing sports feature which almost seemed to suggest the Tennessee Titans should return the Houston Oilers’ team history back to the state of Texas.
When the Oilers bolted to Nashville following the conclusion of the 1996 NFL season, fans in the city of Houston were understandably grief-stricken. In 1999, team was renamed the Titans, which officially dropped the Oilers brand for good.
Now, the only football team named the Oilers in the local Houston-area is the Pearland High School Oilers. To give credit when credit is due, Pearland High School has done a fine job carrying the name.
In 2002, professional football returned to the Bayou City when the Houston Texans made their debut into the NFL at the brand-new Reliant Stadium, which was located directly next to the Astrodome, where the Oilers formerly played. The Texans are currently the youngest franchise in the NFL, at least as of now.
When owner Bud Adams (who initially purchased the franchise for $25,000) moved the Oilers out of Houston, he also took the franchise history with him, something that still doesn’t go over well with Houston residents.
In fact, there are quite a few people who would like to see the pre-Nashville history go back to Houston and the Texans.
Oilers legendary quarterback Warren Moon had mixed emotions when watching his No. 1 jersey get retired by Tennessee in 2006, as he never wore a Titans jersey in his storied career.
“When franchises move, all the history from that franchise usually moves along with that team. And all my history and everybody else who played for the Oilers were in the same boat. It all moved to Tennessee,” Moon said.
Bruce Matthews, one of Moon’s former teammates, said he’d rather see the Texans absorb the Oiler history instead of the Titans.
“Whoever, the Adamses, whoever they are (that own) the Titans, they ought to give back the Oilers’ history to the Texans,” Matthews said. “It’s just sitting up there (in Nashville), whereas I think the Texans could really utilize it.
Matthews also claimed a lot of people in Nashville don’t feel Oilers history is very important, which isn’t surprising.
Look at it like marriage; if you happen to get remarried, you don’t celebrate your old anniversaries or milestones, you move on from it all to start a new chapter. If the Titans go on to win a Super Bowl at some point, the residents in Houston won’t see it as a victory for them:
“There are just people up there who don’t know anything, nor do they care about the Oiler history. And I can’t blame them. But the people down here I think would appreciate it,” Matthews added.
To a certain degree, the Oilers don’t exist to anyone except Houstonians. Some fans grew up rooting for the Oilers, watching Moon and company win ballgames and fight for NFL supremacy in the ‘90s.
During Super Bowl LI festivities, Oilers hats and jerseys could be spotted anywhere. There were get-togethers with old players from the Oilers. Hall of Famer Earl Campbell was all over the place, and so was Moon.
Maybe one day we will witness Oilers history blend with the Texans, but this isn’t likely to happen. Let’s assume the Oakland Raiders can successfully pull off this move to Las Vegas. What happens to the decades of history that occurred in California? Will it disappear into thin air?
Some will argue it does; others will argue it doesn’t.
The odds of this happening are slim, but Houstonians would probably lose their minds if they saw guys such as J.J. Watt sporting Columbia blue throwback jerseys. No matter what, Houston sports fans will continue dream about that possibility.