Tennessee Titans History

Tennessee Titans - Team History

Tennessee Titans, professional football team and one of six teams in the Central Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) of the National Football League (NFL). Under the league’s realignment plan, which will take affect in 2002, the Titans will play in the South Division of the AFC. The team formerly played in Houston, Texas, as the Houston Oilers. The Titans now play in Adelphia Coliseum in Nashville, Tennessee, and wear uniforms of blue, red, and white. The team’s logo is a white T surrounded by three red stars. The team's name was chosen because in Greek mythology Titans exemplified the characteristics of power, strength, knowledge, and excellence.

The Houston Oilers fielded strong teams in the now-defunct American Football League (AFL), capturing two league titles and reaching the playoffs five times before the AFL and NFL completed their merger in 1970. From 1978 to 1980 running back Earl Campbell, a four-time rushing champion, powered Houston to three straight playoff appearances. The Oilers were one of the AFC’s most consistent teams during the late 1980s and early 1990s, making seven consecutive postseason appearances from 1987 to 1993.

The Oilers became charter members of the AFL in 1960, and that same year the franchise won the AFL’s first championship. Houston won another AFL championship a year later under head coach Wally Lemm, who oversaw a powerful offense with lineups that featured quarterback-placekicker George Blanda, running back Billy Cannon, and wide receivers Bill Groman and Charley Hennigan. The four helped the Oilers score an average of 36.6 points per game. Houston was so dominant that half of the team’s starting lineup played in the AFL All-Star Games following the 1961 and 1962 seasons.

Lemm left the Oilers after the championship but returned five years later to guide the club to the postseason in 1967 and 1969. A new Houston powerhouse emerged behind quarterback Pete Beathard, running back Hoyle Granger, and offensive guard Bob Talamini. Safeties Ken Houston and Jim Norton anchored one of the league’s toughest defenses.

Houston joined the NFL in 1970 as part of the NFL-AFL merger. After four losing seasons under four different coaches, the Oilers posted their first NFL winning record in 1975. Former defensive coordinator Bum Phillips led the team as head coach, and Houston posted a 10-4 win-loss record.

In 1978 Houston drafted Earl Campbell, who became one of the most prolific runners in NFL history, capturing four consecutive rushing titles from 1978 to 1981 and two straight most valuable player (MVP) awards in 1978 and 1979. Campbell led the Oilers to consecutive appearances in the AFC Championship Game in 1978 and 1979, but the Pittsburgh Steelers, the eventual Super Bowl champions, defeated Houston in both of these contests.

As injuries slowed Campbell, Houston slumped during a six-year period from 1981 through 1986. The team began its turnaround by drafting quarterback Warren Moon from the Edmonton Eskimos of the Canadian Football League in 1984. The move produced seven straight playoff appearances beginning in 1987. The team was stymied in the postseason, however, failing to reach the AFC Championship Game during that stretch.

Moon’s favorite receivers were Drew Hill, Haywood Jeffries, and Tim Smith, each of whom posted multiple 1,000-yard seasons. Hill and Jeffries both reached that plateau in 1990, when Moon recorded the first of his two consecutive 4,000-yard seasons of passing and was named AFC player of the year. Tackle Ray Childress anchored the defense during this time, while guard Bruce Matthews and center Mike Munchak led an outstanding offensive line. Mike Rozier replaced Campbell as Houston’s main running back. After Moon’s departure before the 1994 season, Houston posted its worst record in 11 years.

In 1997 the Oilers moved to Tennessee, where they played in the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis. After the 1998 season the team moved to Nashville and was renamed the Titans. In 1999 the Titans finished with a 13-3 record, and in the postseason they reached the Super Bowl, where they lost to the St. Louis Rams.

2000 Super Bowl XXXIV Lost to St. Louis Rams, 23-16

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