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Oilers Change Name To Titans

Goodbye Oilers. Hello Titans.

Titans was picked as the new nickname of the NFL's Tennessee franchise, transplanted from Houston.

"We wanted a new nickname to reflect strength, leadership and other heroid qualities," owner Bud Adams said Saturday in making the announcement.

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The team was the Houston Oilers from 1960 until it relocated to Tennessee two years ago when it became the Tennessee Oilers.

"If we continue to play like Titans, we'll be in the playoffs this January," Adams said.

Titans was the original nickname of the New York Jets in the old American Football League. But Jets officials have indicated they had no problem letting Adams, who helped found the AFL, take the name Titans.

Adams initially promised to hold a "change the name" contest when he relocating his Oilers from Houston to Tennessee. He backed off after hearing from former Oilers like Earl Campbell who wondered what would happen to their NFL legacy if the name changed.

The name Oilers was often ridiculed by callers to radio sports talk shows in Nashville who said the name was not relevant to Tennessee.

"Titans come from early Greek mythology and the fact that Nashville is known as the `Athens of the South' makes the Titans name very appropriate," Adams said.

Tennessee fans had a hard time warming up to the Oilers, who played their first season in this state last year in Memphis 197 miles west of Nashville. They drew a NFL-worst average crowd of 28,028 in the Liberty Bowl in 1997, and even a move this year to Nashville's Vanderbilt Stadium did little to stimulate ticket sales.

On July 29, Adams said he had agreed to change the name of the franchise, which he has owned since 1960.

Commissioner Paul Tagliabue agreed to rtire the Oilers nickname, preventing any future franchise that might land in Houston from taking the name.

Adams said he wanted a nickname that reflected the team's new home, so he assembled an advisory council of Tennesseans that included a historian, a university president and businessmen from around the state.

They quickly pared suggestions down to 39 names, including Pioneers, Tornadoes, Copperheads, Vipers and even Fury, which had been the second choice of Nashville's new NHL franchise.

The new nickname had been scheduled to be unveiled no later than Dec. 26, the date of the Oilers' final home game this season.

© 1998 SportsLine USA, Inc. All rights reserved

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