Originally a charter member of the American Football League (AFL), the Tennessee Titans was previously known as the Huston Oilers, based in Houston, Texas. They began playing in 1960 and won two AFL championships, before the AFL merged with the National Football League (NFL) and became collectively known as the NFL. They are currently a member of the American Football Conference (AFC) South Division in the NFL. In 1997, the Oilers relocated to the state of Tennessee, playing in Memphis for the first season and then moved to Nashville. For their first two seasons in Tennessee, they were known as the Tennessee Oilers and then in 1999, changed their name to the Titans.
In their first season playing in the AFL, they won the first ever AFL championship, and won it again a year later. Wally Lemm, their head coach during that time led a strong offense. The Oilers at that time had such a potent offense that half of the starting lineup in the 1961 and 1962 seasons played in the AFL All-Star Games. After the championship, Wally Lemm left the team but came back five years later for the 1967 and 1969 postseason. The team was recharged with such winning players as quarterback Pete Beathard, offensive guard Bob Talamini, running back Hoyle Granger, and safeties Jim Norton and Ken Houston-one of the strongest defenses the league had ever seen.
Joining the NFL
In 1970, the American Football League (AFL) merged with the National Football League (NFL). In its first four seasons playing in the NFL, the Oilers lost under four different coaches. It was only in 1975 that it got its first winning record under head coach Bum Philips. The Houston posted a 10-4 record. In 1978, Earl Campbell, one of the best runners in NFL history got drafted to the team. From 1978 to 1981, Campbell earned four consecutive rushing titles, as well as two consecutive Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards in ’78 and ’79. The Oilers appeared in the AFC Championship game in 1978 and 1979 but were defeated by the Pittsburgh Steelers-who eventually won the Super Bowl Championship. The team had a six-year slum from 1981 to 1986, and it was also at that time that injuries were slowing Earl Campbell down. Warren Moon, who came from the Canadian Football League playing for the Edmonton Eskimos, was drafted into the team in 1987 and it was then that the Oilers had its turnaround. His favorite receivers included Haywood Jeffries, Drew Hill, and Tim Smith-each posting multiple thousand-yard seasons. In 1990, Moon recorded two consecutive 4,000-yard seasons of passes and was named the AFC player of the year. During that season, center Mike Munchak and guard Bruce Matthews led a strong offensive line and tackle Ray Childress anchored a tough defense.
Becoming the Titans
Before the 1995 season that Moon left the team, Houston posted their worst-ever record in 11 years. In 1997, the Oilers moved to Memphis, Tennessee and later to Nashville and were then named the Titans. In 1999, the Titans got to Super Bowl XXXIV but lost to the St. Louis Rams.