K.S. "Bud" Adams Jr. was talking on the telephone Friday with a Nashville friend and business partner. They were discussing the death of former Oilers coach Bum Phillips.
Some time Monday morning Adams passed away from natural causes. Ironically, Phillips and Adams were both 90 years old. Both were Texans down to their toenails.
“He sounded good. We were talking about Bum and Bud told me that Bum was his favorite coach," his friend said. “There was no indication anything was wrong. He was excited about watching the game Sunday."
Adams is the sole reason Nashville has an NFL team. It was Memphis who was chasing an NFL team at that time. They had the Liberty Bowl, an ownership ready to make it happen, everything Nashville did not possess at that time.
We always had people who wanted to bring an NFL team to Nashville. But they didn’t have the capital or the financial backing to acquire a team. We always had people who did have the money, but none of them had the desire to own an NFL team.
But when Bud Adams was searching for a place to move the Oilers, Nashville kept popping up on his radar screen. He liked the demographics of a growing and prosperous city with enormous upside.
When Adams called then Mayor Phil Bredesen, the mayor thought it was a friend of his pulling a prank on him. Bredesen hung up. Bud called back. Bredesen knew the value of a city owning an NFL franchise. The wheels were put in motion. And so Adams moved a franchise he purchased for $25,000 in the now defunct American Football League and Nashville became a new kid on the NFL block.
I had a number of opportunities through the years to sit down and interview Adams. We would meet in a suite in a mid-town hotel and he would sit down on a couch with a glass of wine and some cheese, crackers and grapes and reminisce about the old days of pro football.
When he signed former LSU star Billy Cannon to play for the AFL Oilers, he had Cannon over to his home to celebrate the occasion. As Cannon was leaving, he noticed a brand new Cadillac in the garage. He told Bud he would really like to have a car like that. Bud gave him the car on the spot. It was his wife’s car.
“I knew I could buy her another one and Billy really wanted that car," Adams said.
Like him or not, and there are people on both sides of the fence in Houston and Nashville, our city wouldn’t be the same if it were not for Adams.
So, what is next for the franchise? We know Adams is survived by two daughters -- Susie Smith and Amy Strunk. A grandson, Kenneth Adams, has worked for the Titans in a variety of front office positions. He is a graduate of Univeristy of the South in Sewanee.
The franchise is valued at just over $1 billion by Forbes Magazine and the daughters may want to eventually sell it, if they don’t have the interest and passion it takes to operate and NFL franchise. In the short term, a son-in-law, Tommy Smith, is expected to be in charge until a decision is made as to what the family wants to do with it. There is said to be a clause in Bud Adams’ will that there will be a place for Bud’s grandson in the organization in the case it is sold.
The Titans organization is legally bound to remain in Nashville for a number of years. As long as it is supported and financially sound, there would be no reason for someone to move it.
In the relatively short time the Titans have been part of this state in general and Nashville in particularly, Bud Adams’ legacy will be intact for the future.
He had the foresight to view Nashville as a destination city.
Contact Joe Biddle at firstname.lastname@example.org.