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Bud Adams, 90; helped shape pro football

BUD ADAMS

BUD ADAMS

NASHVILLE — Titans owner Bud Adams, who helped found the American Football League and whose battles for players helped lead to the merger with the NFL, has died. He was 90.

The team announced Monday that Mr. Adams had died, saying he ‘‘passed away peacefully from natural causes.’’

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The son of a prominent oil executive, Mr. Adams built his own energy fortune and founded the Houston Oilers. He moved the team to Tennessee in 1997 when he could not get the new stadium he wanted in Houston. In 2000, the franchise, renamed the Titans, reached the Super Bowl that Mr. Adams had spent more than three decades pursuing. Mr. Adams’s 409 wins were the most of any current NFL owner.

Mr. Adams joined Dallas oilman Lamar Hunt on Aug. 3, 1959, when they announced the AFL would begin competing with the NFL. Mr. Adams founded one of the new league’s charter franchises.

He won a major battle with the NFL in June 1960, shortly before the AFL’s debut, when a judge ruled Louisiana State Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon, who signed with the Oilers underneath the goalposts after the Sugar Bowl that year, was their property even though he had later signed with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.

The Oilers won the first two AFL titles and reached the championship game four times during the 1960s. In 1968, they became the first indoor football team when they moved into the three-year-old Astrodome.

Mr. Adams’s wife, Nancy, died in 2009. He leaves his daughters, Susie Smith and Amy Strunk, and seven grandchildren. His son, Kenneth Stanley Adams III, died in 1987.

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