What's next for Titans ownership?

October, 21, 2013
10/21/13
3:20
PM ET

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- As Bud Adams got older, with no clear-cut successor in place, the question was asked more frequently: What will happen to the franchise when he passes away?

Many of us were told that a strong plan was in place that would help the franchise to avoid the sort of tax issues that have forced some descendent of other owners to sell. The details of said plan have never been made public.

David Climer of The Tennessean has written about what happens next.
Adams had the foresight — and wealth — to establish a succession plan that keeps the NFL team in the family. Adams took that action after seeing other franchises sold due to the burden of estate taxes.

With that in mind, Adams set aside funds that would cover estate taxes on the franchise, which was valued at approximately $1.01 billion by Forbes magazine last year. Adams originally paid $25,000 for the franchise rights when he and former Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt founded the American Football League in 1959.

While details are sketchy because Adams preferred to keep personal business matters private, it is believed that the families of his three children — daughters Susie Smith and Amy Strunk and his late son Kenneth Adams III — will share ownership of the franchise equally.


Kenneth Adams IV, who you can see here, is just seven years out of the University of the South. He’s a likeable young man who’s taken a smart approach to learning his grandfather’s business. He’s an administrative assistant to the senior EVP and general counsel for the Titans, Elza Bullock.

Susie Smith’s husband, Tommy Smith, was once very involved in the organization, then had some level of falling out with Bud Adams and lost his place with the football business. He could re-emerge in some capacity eventually if the two sisters decide they want him to handle the team.

John McClain of the Houston Chronicle said today on my radio show in Nashville that he believes the two daughters and Kenneth Adams IV will each have a vote in what happens with majority rule.

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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