NFL Nation: Kenneth Adams

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.
Posted by ESPN.com's Paul Kuharsky

Ownership's presence on draft weekend is no story in Houston, Indianapolis or Jacksonville.

But it's a rarity in Tennessee.

Bud Adams is an-out-of-town owner, still based in his team's original home city of Houston while the Titans operate out of Nashville. But Adams has a trip planned and is expected to be at team headquarters Saturday for the draft.

Adams has not been a meddlesome owner in personnel matters since the franchise relocated to Tennessee after the 1996 season. His one major thumbprint on football decisions came in 2006, when he prompted his people to take Texans quarterback Vince Young third, over Matt Leinart or Jay Cutler.

I don't expect Adams will do much more than ask to be informed and nod approval as Mike Reinfeldt and Jeff Fisher make decisions following the draft board the team has set.

His wife, Nancy, passed away on Feb. 1, and Adams had often skipped trips in recent years to remain by her side as she was less and less able to travel.

If he makes the scheduled trip, Adams will surely get some time with his grandson, Kenneth Adams. Only a few years removed from college, Kenneth Adams serves as executive assistant to the highest ranking member of the Nashville front office, Steve Underwood, but will be made a vice president in coming years and is ultimately in line to own the team.

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