|Established August 14, 1959|
First season: 1960
Play in Nissan Stadium
Headquartered in Ascension Saint Thomas Sports Park
|Team colors||Navy, Titans blue, red, silver, white|
|Owner(s)||Amy Adams Strunk|
|Chairman||Susie Adams Smith|
Amy Adams Strunk
|General manager||Ran Carthon|
|Head coach||Mike Vrabel|
|League championships (2)|
|Conference championships (1)
|Division championships (11)|
|Playoff appearances (25)|
|This article is part of series of|
|Tennessee Titans history|
|Houston Oilers (1960–1996)|
|Tennessee Oilers (1997–1998)|
|Tennessee Titans (1999–present)|
|List of seasons|
The Tennessee Titans are a professional American football team based in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the American Football Conference (AFC) South division, and play their home games at Nissan Stadium.
Originally known as the Houston Oilers, the team was founded in 1959 by Bud Adams (who remained the owner until his death in 2013), and began play in 1960 in Houston, Texas, as a charter member of the American Football League (AFL). The Oilers won the first two AFL championships along with four division titles, and joined the NFL as part of the AFL–NFL merger in 1970. The Oilers made consecutive playoff appearances from 1978 to 1980 and from 1987 to 1993, with Hall of Famers Earl Campbell and Warren Moon, respectively.
In 1997, the Oilers relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, but played at the Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis for one season while waiting for a new stadium to be constructed. Due to low attendance, the team moved to Nashville's Vanderbilt Stadium in 1998. For those two seasons, the team was known as the Tennessee Oilers, but it changed its name to the Titans for the 1999 season, moving into Adelphia Coliseum (now known as Nissan Stadium). The Titans' training facility is in Saint Thomas Sports Park, a 31-acre (13 ha) site at the MetroCenter complex in Nashville.
The Titans have played in the Super Bowl once (XXXIV), losing 23–16 to the St. Louis Rams. Led by Steve McNair and Eddie George, the Titans experienced postseason success during the early 2000s when they made the playoffs in all but one season from 1999 to 2003, but they made the playoffs only twice in the next 13 years. Their fortunes improved in the late 2010s and from 2016 to 2021, with six consecutive winning seasons, the most since they were the Houston Oilers, and four playoff appearances. The Titans are the only NFL team to have two players rush for 2,000 yards in a season: Chris Johnson (2009) and Derrick Henry (2020).
After several failed attempts to start an NFL expansion team in Houston, Bud Adams, a Houston oil tycoon founded the Houston Oilers in 1959, as one of the eight charter members of the upstart American Football League (AFL) and a member of its Eastern Division. Beginning play at Jeppesen Stadium at the University of Houston, the team moved to Rice Stadium at Rice University in 1965. Led by quarterback George Blanda who played with the team from 1960 to 1966, the Oilers made it to each of the first three AFL championship games. The Oilers won the first two AFL championships, both against the Los Angeles/San Diego Chargers but lost the 1962 American Football League Championship Game to the Dallas Texans (now Kansas City Chiefs) 20–17 after double overtime. The Oilers failed to post a winning season in any of the next six seasons, but returned to the AFL championship game with a 9–4–1 record in 1967, but lost 40–7 to the Oakland Raiders. The Oilers moved into the Astrodome after the season, becoming the first professional football team to move into a domed stadium. After failing to qualify for the AFL playoffs in 1968, the Oilers qualified the following season in 1969, but were eliminated in the divisional round by the Oakland Raiders in a 56–7 blowout.
Following the season, the AFL merged with the NFL in 1970, with the Oilers being assigned to the new American Football Conference (AFC)'s Central division. The Oilers struggled in the early post-merger period, failing to qualify for the NFL playoffs from 1970 to 1977 and only posting one winning season in 1975. The team's fortunes improved beginning in 1978, when the Oilers selected running back and future Hall of Famer Earl Campbell with the first overall pick in the 1978 NFL draft. Campbell would lead the team to three straight playoff appearances as a wildcard birth from 1978 to 1980. During this time, Campbell also led the NFL in rushing yards and won the Offensive Player of the Year Award in each of those three seasons. The Oilers made it to the AFC championships in both 1978 and 1979, but were defeated both times by the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Another playoff drought began in 1981, with the Oilers failing to post a winning record in each of the next six seasons. This ended when the Oilers acquired quarterback Warren Moon in 1987. With Moon as starting quarterback, the Oilers made six consecutive playoff appearances from 1987 to 1993. During this time however, the Oilers also earned the dubious distinction of being on the losing end of what was then the biggest comeback in NFL history. During the division round of the 1992–93 NFL playoffs, the Oilers amassed a 35–3 third quarter lead against the Buffalo Bills, only to lose 41–38 in overtime.
After the 1995 season, Bud Adams announced the move to Tennessee, causing fan support in Houston to collapse for the 1996 season. They intended to play at a new stadium in Nashville, but it would not be ready until 1999. The largest stadium in Nashville at the time, Vanderbilt Stadium on the campus of Vanderbilt University, seated only 41,000 — a capacity deemed too small for even temporary use. Vanderbilt was also unwilling to permit alcohol sales. However, Adams ruled out using the state's largest stadium, the University of Tennessee's Neyland Stadium, in Knoxville; at 102,000 seats, it would have been all but impossible to sell out in time to avoid local blackouts on television.
Ultimately, Adams announced that the renamed Tennessee Oilers would play the next two seasons at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee. The team would be based in Nashville, commuting to Memphis only for games—essentially sentencing the Oilers to 32 road games for the next two years.
Even though this arrangement was acceptable to the NFL and the Oilers at the time, few people in either Memphis or Nashville were happy about it. After numerous attempts to get an NFL team over the last three decades, Memphians wanted nothing to do with a team that would be lost in only two years—especially to longtime rival Nashville. Conversely, Nashvillians showed little inclination to drive over 200 miles (320 km) to see "their" team. At the time, Interstate 40 was in the midst of major reconstruction in the Memphis area, lengthening the normal three-hour drive between Nashville and Memphis to five hours.
In Memphis, attendance was even worse than it had been in the team's final season in Houston. The Oilers played before some of the smallest NFL crowds since the 1950s, with none of the first seven games of the season attracting crowds larger than 27,000 (in a 62,000-seat stadium), and with at least two crowds of less than 18,000. The few fans there were usually indifferent, and often those that attended were fans of the opposing team. Attendance was smaller than what the USFL's Memphis Showboats had drawn and what the XFL's Memphis Maniax would draw to the same stadium. It appeared that only large contingents of fans supporting the Oilers' opponents kept average attendance from dropping below what it had been for the CFL's Memphis Mad Dogs.
Despite this, Adams had every intention of playing in Memphis the next season. That changed after the final game of the 1997 season. The Oilers faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in front of 50,677 fans—the only crowd that could not have been reasonably accommodated at Vanderbilt. However, Steeler fans made up the great majority of the crowd (at least three-fourths, by one estimate). Adams was so embarrassed that he abandoned plans to play the 1998 season in Memphis and ended up playing at Vanderbilt after all. The team rebounded that season, and was in playoff contention until losing their last two games for another 8–8 record. The Oilers had gone 6–2 in Nashville while going 2–6 on the road. The Titans have maintained both radio and preseason TV affiliates in the Memphis area.
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Logos and uniforms
When the team debuted as the Houston Oilers in 1960, its logo was an oil rig derrick. Except for minor color changes throughout the years, this logo remained the same until the team was renamed the Titans in 1999. The logo was originally called "Ol' Riggy", but this name was dropped before the 1974 season.
The Oilers' uniforms consisted of blue or white jerseys, red trim, and white pants. From 1966 to 1971, the pants with both the blue and white jerseys were silver to match the color of the helmets. The team commonly wore light blue pants on the road with the white jerseys from 1972 to 1994, with the exception of the 1980 season, and selected games in the mid-1980s, when the team wore an all-white road combination. For selected games in 1973 and 1974, and again from 1981 through 1984, the Oilers wore their white jerseys at home. Coach Jeff Fisher discarded the light blue pants in 1995. From 1960 to about 1965 and from 1972 to 1974, the Oilers wore blue helmets; the helmets were silver from 1966 to 1971 and white from 1975 to 1998.
From 1997 to 1998, when it was known as the Tennessee Oilers, the team had an alternate logo that combined elements of the flag of Tennessee with the derrick. The team also wore its white uniforms during home games as opposed to their time in Houston, when it wore its blue uniforms at home. In its two years as the Tennessee Oilers, the team wore its colored jerseys only twice: for road games against the Miami Dolphins and a Thanksgiving Day game against the Dallas Cowboys. It wore all white exclusively in its last year as the Tennessee Oilers.
When the team was renamed the Titans in 1999, it introduced a new logo: a circle with three stars representing the state's Grand Divisions, similar to that found on the flag of Tennessee, containing a large "T" with a trail of flames similar to a comet. The uniforms consisted of white helmets, red trim, and either navy or white jerseys. White pants were normally worn with the navy jerseys, and navy pants with the white jerseys. On both the navy and white jerseys, the outside shoulders and sleeves were light Titans blue. In a game against the Washington Redskins on October 15, 2006, the Titans wore their navy jerseys with navy pants for the first time. Since 2000, the Titans have generally worn their dark uniforms at home throughout the preseason and regular season. They have worn white at home during daytime contests on many occasions for September home games to gain an advantage with the heat, except in the 2005, 2006 and 2008 seasons.
In 2003, the Titans introduced an alternate jersey that was light Titans blue with navy outside shoulders and sleeves, which was usually worn with the road blue pants. Until 2007, they wore the jersey twice in each regular-season game (and once in the preseason). They always wore the Titans blue jersey in their annual divisional game against the Houston Texans and for other selected home games which came mostly against a team from the old AFL (American Football League). Their selection in those games was representative of the organization's ties to Houston and the old AFL. On November 19, 2006, the Titans introduced light Titans blue pants, reminiscent of the Oilers', in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles. In December 2006, they combined the Titans blue pants with the Titans blue jersey to create an all Titans blue uniform; Vince Young appeared in this uniform in the cover art for Madden NFL 08.
During the 2006 season, the Titans wore seven different uniform combinations, pairing the white jersey with all three sets of pants (white, Titans blue, navy blue), the navy jersey with the white and navy pants, and the Titans blue jersey with navy and Titans blue pants. In a game against the Atlanta Falcons on October 7, 2007, the Titans paired the navy blue jersey with the Titans blue pants for the first time. They also wore the navy blue jerseys with the light blue pants against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The team paired the Titans blue jerseys with the white pants for the first time in a home game against the Indianapolis Colts on November 14, 2013. In 2008, the Titans blue jerseys became the regular home uniforms, with the navy blue jerseys being relegated to alternate status but not worn until 2013.
In 2009, the NFL and the Hall of Fame committee announced that the Titans and the Buffalo Bills would begin the 2009 NFL preseason in the Hall of Fame Game. The game, played at Canton's Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium on August 9, 2009, was nationally televised on NBC. The Titans defeated the Bills, 21–18. In honor of the AFL's 50th anniversary, the Titans wore Oilers' uniforms for this game. Also in 2009, the team honored former quarterback Steve McNair by placing a small, navy blue disc on the back of their helmets with a white number nine inside of it (nine was the number McNair wore during his time with the Oilers/Titans).
From 2009 to 2012, the Titans did not wear an alternate jersey during any regular-season games. It was not until 2013 that the team wore the navy blue jerseys twice in honor of their 15th anniversary as the Titans. The Titans wore white jerseys for all games in 2014, for the exceptions of two preseason home games, in which the team wore their light Titans blue jerseys, and a game against the Houston Texans on October 26, 2014, in which the Titans wore their navy blue uniforms.
Beginning in 2015, navy blue became the team's primary home jersey color again, marking the first time since 2007 that the Titans wore navy as their primary home jersey, though the team plans to continue wearing white jerseys for early-season hot-weather home games. The light Titans blue jersey, which was the team's primary jersey color from 2008 to 2014, became the team's alternate jersey for a second time.
On April 4, 2018, the Titans debuted new uniforms at an event attended by over 10,000 fans in downtown Nashville. The uniforms retain the color palette of navy blue, Titans blue and white, with new red and silver elements being introduced. The new helmets are navy blue with one silver sword-shaped stripe through the center and metallic gray facemasks, a change from the previous white helmets with two navy stripes and black facemasks.
On July 23, 2023, the Titans unveiled the throwback powder blue Oilers uniforms based on the set the team wore from 1982 to 1998. As the then-Tennessee Oilers never wore this set at home during the two years the franchise was named as such, this would mark the first time the iconic powder blues would be worn on the Titans' home field.
The Titans share rivalries with their three AFC South opponents (Jacksonville Jaguars, Houston Texans, and Indianapolis Colts). They also have historical rivalries with former divisional opponents such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens (formerly the original Cleveland Browns) and Buffalo Bills, and during their time as the Houston Oilers, shared an in-state rivalry with the Dallas Cowboys.
Since their founding, the Jaguars have been seen from time to time as the Titans' primary rival due to constantly competitive games between the two franchises. The rivalry began back in 1995 when the Titans were still called the Houston Oilers. The rivalry was heated in the late 1990s and early 2000s due to the success of both franchises at the time, including a season in which Jacksonville went 14–2 and Tennessee went 13–3. That season, all three of Jacksonville's losses (including the playoffs) came against the Titans, who went on to play in Super Bowl XXXIV. The rivalry then cooled with both teams experiencing misfortune in the late 2000s to early 2010s, but both teams ended lengthy playoff droughts in 2017.
The Texans see the Titans as their primary rival due to the Titans' previous history in Houston until their relocation to Tennessee. The Titans dominated the rivalry in the early 2000s, but the series has since evened out in the 2010s.
From the early 2000s to the late 2010s, the Colts have been very dominant in their rivalry with the Titans since the creation of the AFC South, with quarterbacks Peyton Manning and later Andrew Luck leading the Colts to consistent success against the Titans, though the Titans would find a decent amount of success in the 2000s, and the rest of the division. However, the series has become more even as of late, with the Titans sweeping the Colts in 2017 after 11 straight losses. In the recent years, the rivalry has picked up steam as both the Titans and the Colts have got playoff teams and compete for the AFC South title. In 2018, the Colts defeated the Titans in Nashville the last game of the regular season to clinch the final Wild Card spot, while eliminating Tennessee from playoff contention. In 2020, the Titans came out as the 2020 AFC South champions over the Colts due to tiebreaking measures as both finished 11–5.
As the Houston Oilers, the team was first in the same division as the Buffalo Bills in the days of the AFL, but were moved to the AFC Central division following the NFL-AFL merger. Even after the Bills and Oilers were placed in separate divisions following the merger, their rivalry remained strong into the 1980s and 1990s with Warren Moon leading the Oilers up against Jim Kelly and the Bills. Two of the most iconic playoff moments in Oilers/Titans history have occurred against the Bills: the Comeback (known as "the Choke" in Houston due to the team's historic collapse against the Bills) and the Music City Miracle, which occurred after the team moved to Nashville to become the Titans. The Bills and Titans were later featured in an "AFL legacy" game in 2009, as part of festivities commemorating the 50th anniversary of the AFL's foundation. Titans owner Bud Adams was fined $250,000 by the league following the 41–17 Titans win in which he obscenely gestured towards the Bills sideline, as he and Bills owner Ralph Wilson had maintained a friendly rivalry and were the last living original AFL owners at that time (Adams and Wilson would die in 2013 and 2014, respectively). Since 2018, the rivalry has heated up again due to the recurrent success of both teams.
After the move to the AFC Central division, they developed a strong rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers were the Oilers' primary divisional rival and to this date, the Titans have played them more than any other NFL team. The Steelers and Oilers were competitive in the 1970s, facing off in back-to-back AFC championship games towards the end of the decade. The teams both underwent hard times in the 1980s before re-emerging in the 1990s. After the Oilers' move to Tennessee and the re-alignment of the NFL's divisions in 2002, the Steelers-Titans rivalry has cooled somewhat.
In the late 1990s and early 2000s after becoming the Titans, they had a briefly intense rivalry with the Baltimore Ravens, which flared up again when former Titans quarterback Steve McNair went to the Ravens. Following the realignment of the NFL's divisions in 2002, the rivalry with the Ravens cooled off somewhat, though the Titans have faced off against Baltimore five times in the postseason, most recently in the 2020–21 NFL playoffs, in which they lost to the 5th seeded Ravens 20–13.
During the Titans' first season in their new stadium, the end zone sections became known as the Flame Pit and fans began wearing headwear resembling flames. Called "Flameheads", the costumes became very prevalent during the Titans' successful years of the early 2000s. Flames in general are heavily tied to the organization because in Greek Mythology, the Titan Prometheus stole fire and gave it to humanity.
Cheerleaders and mascot
Tennessee's cheerleading squad is called the Tennessee Titans Cheerleaders and represent the team in the NFL. They perform at every home game in Nissan Stadium and regularly do acts with the team's mascot T-Rac. They currently have 28 members, including nine men, with four captains. They perform a variety of dance moves and include high-risk stunts. They also attend several community events in Middle Tennessee. While the franchise was the Houston Oilers, the squad was called the Derrick Dolls.
T-Rac is the raccoon mascot of the Titans, debuting in the team's inaugural preseason home game in August 1999 against the Atlanta Falcons. The raccoon is the state animal of Tennessee. T-Rac also appears at every game in Nissan Stadium and does community events all throughout Tennessee. He has also zip-lined from the top of the stadium and rappelled from buildings in downtown Nashville.
During every home game's 4th quarter, the stadium plays a video of "office linebacker" Terry Tate, performed by Lester Speight, shouting his catchphrase, "the pain train's coming!" This is immediately followed by the playing of "Folsom Prison Blues" by Johnny Cash, a favorite singer of Nashville.
After every Titans first down at Nissan Stadium, the jumbotrons play a scene from the movie 300 where the Spartans chant after King Leonidas asks, "What is your profession?" Titans fans simultaneously perform the chant three times, "HA-OOH! HA-OOH! HA-OOH!" The chant debuted in video game form in Madden NFL 22.
|Houston / Tennessee Oilers / Titans retired numbers|
|1||Warren Moon||QB||1984–1993||October 1, 2006|
|9||Steve McNair||QB||1995–2005||September 15, 2019|
|27||Eddie George||RB||1996–2003||September 15, 2019|
|34||Earl Campbell||RB||1978–1984||August 13, 1987|
|63||Mike Munchak||G||1982–1993||November 6, 1994|
|65||Elvin Bethea||DE||1968–1983||August 4, 1983|
|74||Bruce Matthews||G||1983–2001||December 8, 2002|
Pro Football Hall of Fame members
|Houston Oilers / Tennessee Oilers/Titans Hall of Famers|
|35||John Henry Johnson||1987||FB||1966|
|Coaches and Executives|
Texas Sports Hall of Fame
Titans Ring of Honor
In 1999, owner Bud Adams established a Titans/Oilers Hall of Fame after the 40th season of the franchise to honor past players and management. It was then changed to Titans Ring of Honor in the 2010s. Bum Phillips, Jeff Fisher, and Floyd Reese are the most recent inductees, each in 2021 (September 26 for Phillips, November 21 for the latter two).
|Elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame|
|Houston / Tennessee Oilers / Titans Ring of Honor|
|65||Elvin Bethea||DE||1968–1983||December 9, 1999|
|52||Robert Brazile||LB||1975–1984||October 14, 2018|
|34||Earl Campbell||RB||1978–1984||December 9, 1999|
|74||Bruce Matthews||G||1983–2001||December 8, 2002|
|1||Warren Moon||QB||1984–1993||October 1, 2007|
|—||Bud Adams||Owner/founder||1959–2013||September 7, 2008|
|27||Eddie George||RB||1996–2003||October 27, 2008|
|—||Bum Phillips||Coach||1975–1980||September 26, 2021|
|—||Jeff Fisher||Coach||1994–2010||November 21, 2021|
|—||Floyd Reese||Coach/GM||1986–2006||November 21, 2021|
Bold denotes still active with team
Italics denote still active but not with team
Passing yards (regular season) (as of end of 2021 season)
Rushing yards (regular season) (as of end of 2021 season)
Receiving yards (regular season) (as of end of 2021 season)
Radio and television
The flagship radio station of the Titans Radio Network for several years was WKDF 103.3-FM. However WGFX 104.5-FM, the original Tennessee Oilers/Titans Radio flagship station, again serves as the Titans Radio flagship station since the 2010 season. Mike Keith is the team's play-by-play announcer, and former Titans assistant coach Dave McGinnis (head coach of the Arizona Cardinals from 2000 to 2003) provides color commentary during games. Previous to McGinnis, former Titans tight end Frank Wycheck provided the color commentary. Larry Stone is also a part of the team, providing injury and scoring updates. The Titans Radio Network is broadcast on some 70 other stations.
The team had long resisted placing any of its games on Sirius XM Radio. According to the Titans Radio Network, this was because the Titans' contract with Citadel Broadcasting (parent of both WKDF and WGFX) predated the arrival of satellite radio, thus there was no provision for the NFL to reserve satellite-radio rights. In 2011, the Titans were able to extend their agreement with existing radio partners while creating a provision allowing home games to be broadcast on SiriusXM. They were the final team in the NFL to reach such a deal.
Most preseason games are televised on Nexstar station WKRN-TV, the ABC affiliate in Nashville, along with a weekly Tuesday night coach's show, The Mike Vrabel Show, formerly known as Titans on 2. The preseason games are distributed through a network made up of other Nexstar stations throughout the state and several affiliates where Nexstar has no stations.
For regular season games, WTVF, the CBS affiliate for Nashville, airs the most games due to its AFC-centric rights. Fox affiliate WZTV carries home games against NFC opponents (along with select flexed games and Thursday Night Football), NBC affiliate WSMV-TV has Sunday Night Football broadcasts, and WKRN carries the team's Monday Night Football matchups locally.
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The color palette navy, Titan blue, red, silver and white remains unchanged.
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