Not The Onion: Texans could play Oilers in 2023
Fans who aren’t fully aware of franchise rights in the NFL and why the Houston Texans can’t wear Houston Oilers jerseys will be even more confused when they see the Tennessee Titans sport them in 2023.
According to Mike Moraitis from the Titans Wire, Tennessee is looking at wearing the Oilers throwbacks for the 2023 season thanks to the NFL’s easing of helmet restrictions — the same rules that provided for the Texans to introduce their Battle Red Helmets.
The genesis for the article is Jim Wyatt from Titans Online answering fan questions and states the plan is for Tennessee to wear the Oilers throwbacks for a game at Nissan Stadium, and indicates it would “make the most sense” to wear them when the Texans visit.
Bud Adams, founder and owner of the AFC South franchise in Nashville until his death in 2013, held the rights to the Oilers’ jerseys, logos, franchise records. Unlike Art Modell, who left the Browns in Cleveland while moving the football infrastructure to Baltimore, Adams took it all with him to Nashville. The club played as the “Tennessee Oilers” from 1997-98 until becoming the Titans for the 1999 season.
NFL divorces can be as divisive and strange. Take the Indianapolis Colts. Virtually none of the inductees in the Colts Ring of Honor played in Baltimore. The Baltimore Colts were an institution. “The Greatest Game Ever Played,” the 1958 NFL Championship Game, featured the Colts beating the New York Giants in overtime. None of those players from that championship team are in the Colts Ring of Honor at Lucas Oil Stadium.
You can find Johnny Unitas’ name in a Ring of Honor at M&T Bank Stadium, home of the Baltimore Ravens. Unitas stated numerous times he didn’t play for the Colts; he played for Baltimore.
As a counter to Unitas’ thinking, Oilers legends have sided with the Adams family, showing they played for a franchise and not a city. At least Unitas’ motivation of playing for a city won championships; hard to say about the other philosophy.
The fascinating aspect of the Texans-Oilers-Titans situationship is the media never associates any of the Oilers’ ignominious moments with the Titans. Instead it is left to the Texans to bear. When the Buffalo Bills visited NRG Stadium for the 2019 AFC wild-card, the Houston Chronicle ran stories about the 1993 AFC wild-card and the Bills’ impossible comeback against the Oilers.
Texans Wire had an adequate rebuttal: if the Titans want to own Oilers history so bad, they can take the losses with them, not the highlights and happy memories.
What does that have to do with the Texans? Isn’t that as much “Titans history” as Luv Ya Blue?
The Adams’ franchise in Tennessee has been there for 26 years, and have produced enough of their own history as the Titans that they don’t need to keep throwing back to the Oilers. Wouldn’t Tennessee fans have more fun reminiscing about the late Steve McNair, Eddie George, Jeff Fisher, Chris Johnson, or their own shocking comeback against the Bills, the “Music City Miracle”?
Having the Titans wear the Oilers throwbacks, especially against the Texans, would be nothing more than sticking it in the eye of Houston, which would be a nice reminder of Adams did when he moved the team to Tennessee in the first place.
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