NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- While he may always rank as a villain in Houston for moving the beloved Oilers, Tennessee Titans owner Bud Adams is the man most responsible for transforming Music City into a major league city and, in turn, an “It” city.
Adams died Monday morning at the age of 90.
The NFL is immensely popular. Only 31 cities are part of the fraternity. Nashville didn't necessarily aspire to be part of the club. When Adams was unable to reach a deal with Houston for a new stadium he turned to Nashville, a city that was surprised to hear from him.
He never moved away from Houston, and in recent years as his health began to fail, he was an infrequent visitor to Nashville.
Nashville has grown extensively since the franchise came here in 1997, playing a season as a commuter to Memphis and then a year at Vanderbilt Stadium before what is now known as LP Field was ready for occupancy.
While covering the team for The Tennessean, I visited with Adams at his Houston office more than once, where he proudly showed off a small Native American museum he kept as part of his office and offered a club sandwich during an extensive conversation.
He reluctantly gave up the Oilers name, and the franchise was reborn in the new stadium in 1999. He gave me a "playoffs or pink slips" headline before that season with regard to the job security of coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Floyd Reese. And the Tennessee Titans responded by performing a Music City Miracle and advancing to the one and only Super Bowl in the franchise’s history.
Perhaps I overstate it because I became a Nashvillian as a result of Adams’ move, but I don’t know how different Nashville would be today from Louisville or Birmingham without Adams and the NFL.
The city is booming. There are a lot of reasons. Adams is probably the biggest.