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These AFL Team pages were salvaged from the defunct site aflfootball.tripod.com, which inspired my AFL pages.
They are dedicated to that site's creator, Robert Phillips, who has re-created his site at afl-football.50.webs.com.

Patriots Facts

Bills Facts

Oilers Facts

Jets
Facts

Dolphins Facts

Broncos Facts

Chiefs Facts

Chargers Facts

Raiders Facts

Bengals Facts

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HOUSTON OILERS

Houston Oilers Owner-President K. S. "Bud" Adams Jr. was one of the founding fathers of the American Football League in 1959. Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon from Louisiana State was the first big-name signing of both the Oilers and the AFL. The Oilers were the AFL's first champions, winning back-to-back titles in 1960 and 1961. The Oilers missed a third straight championship in 1962 when they lost 20-17 to the Dallas Texans. At the time, the historic six-quarter contest was the longest professional football game ever played -- 77 minutes, 54 seconds.

The Oilers have qualified for AFL post-season action a total of 5 times in the club's history with playoff appearances coming in 1960, 1961, 1962, 1967 and 1969. The AFL championships Houston won in its first two years of play remain the only league titles the Oilers have claimed. They won four AFL Eastern Division championships in that league's 10-year existence.

Several coaches have contributed to winning seasons in Houston. Lou Rymkus led the Oilers to their first championship in 1960 while Wally Lemm coached the 1961 AFL title team. Frank "Pop" Ivy won a divisional championship the next year. Lemm returned to guide the Oilers' 1967 AFL East championship.

Three former Oilers stars are now members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The fabled George Blanda, who played 26 years and was the Oilers' quarterback from 1960 to 1966, was the first to be inducted in 1981. Ken Houston, one of history's great safeties, was elected in 1986 and Earl Campbell, a pile-driving fullback from Texas, was picked in 1991. Four former Oilers stars have had their jerseys retired -- safety Jim Norton, defensive end Elvin Bethea, Campbell and guard Mike Munchak.

In the 1960s, Blanda was a big-yardage maker with his throws to such receivers as Charlie Hennigan, who caught a then-record 101 passes in the 1964 season.

Houston started its AFL life in Jeppesen Stadium, a high school facility that seated 33,000, before moving to 70,000-seat Rice Stadium in 1965. In 1968, the Oilers moved into the nation's first domed stadium, the air-conditioned Astrodome, thus becoming the first team in professional football to play indoors on synthetic turf.

Oilers Facts

  • Franchise Granted:
    August 14, 1959 as Charter Member of AFL
  • First Season:
    1960
  • Stadiums:
    Jeppesen Stadium, Rice Stadium, Astrodome
  • Head Coach:
    Lou Rymkus, Wally Lemm, Pop Ivy, Sammy Baugh, Hugh Taylor
  • AFL Championships:
    1960, 1961
  • AFL Eastern Division Championships:
    1960, 1961, 1962, 1967
  • All-Time AFL Record:
    72- 69-4
  • Retired Uniform Numbers:
    #43 Jim Norton

Oilers' Historical Performance

REGULAR SEASON
YEAR GP W L T PF PA PCT. HEAD COACH
1960 14 10 4 0 379 285 0.714    Lou Rymkus
1961 14 10 3 1 513 242 0.750    Lou Rymkus, Wally Lemm
1962 14 11 3 0 387 270 0.786    Pop Ivy
1963 14 6 8 0 302 372 0.429    Pop Ivy
1964 14 4 10 0 310 355 0.286    Sammy Baugh
1965 14 4 10 0 298 429 0.286    Hugh Taylor
1966 14 3 11 0 335 396 0.214    Wally Lemm
1967 14 9 4 1 258 199 0.679    Wally Lemm
1968 14 7 7 0 303 248 0.500    Wally Lemm
1969 14 6 6 2 278 279 0.500    Wally Lemm

Oilers Totals 140 70 66 4 3363 3075 0.514  

 
POSTSEASON
YEAR W L PCT. RESULT
1960 1 0 1.000 AFL CHAMPIONS
1961 1 0 1.000 AFL CHAMPIONS
1962 0 1 0.000 LOST AFL CHAMPIONSHIP
1967 0 1 0.000 LOST AFL CHAMPIONSHIP
1969 0 1 0.000 LOST AFL DIVISIONAL PLAYOFF

Firsts, Records, and Odd and Ends

  • First Players Signed:
    Don Hitt and Tony Banfield, both of Oklahoma State, 12/8/59.
  • First Regular-Season Game:
    A 37-22 victory over the Oakland Raiders, 9/11/60.
  • First Regular-Season Touchdown:
    A 43-yard pass from Hall of Fame QB George Blanda to Charlie Hennigan vs. the Oakland Raiders, 9/11/60.
  • First Winning Season:
    1960 (10-4).
  • First Championship Game:
    A 24-16 victory over the Los Angeles Chargers for the 1960 American Football League Championship.
  • First to Rush 200-yards in a Game:
    Billy Cannon, 216 yards vs. the New York Jets, 12/10/61.
  • First 1,000-Yard Rusher:
    Charley Tolar, 1,012 yards (1962).
  • First to Pass 400 Yards in a Game:
    Jackie Lee, 457 yards vs. the Boston Patriots, 10/13/61.
  • First to Catch 100 Passes in a Season:
    Charlie Hennigan, 101 receptions (1964).
  • First Oiler Elected to the Hall of Fame:
    QB George Blanda, 1981.
  • All-Time Leading Scorer:
    George Blanda, 596 points (1960-66).
  • Most Lopsided Win:
    A 55-0 victory over the Oakland Raiders, 9/9/61
Copyright 1997-2004 Robert Phillips. All rights reserved.

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USA Today ~ August 8, 2009

Titans owner Bud Adams often overlooked in launch of AFL
Titans owner Bud Adams, left, and Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, center,  were two of the most influential figures in turning the AFL into a success.
AP photo
Titans owner Bud Adams, left, and Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, center, were two of the most influential figures in turning the AFL into a success.
 
 ABOUT THE AFL SERIES
USA TODAY will celebrate the American Football League's 50th anniversary this summer with a series of retrospectives.
 
 THE AFL, 50 YEARS LATER
 
 
Last in a series exploring the histories of all 10 AFL franchises as the NFL celebrates the league's 50th anniversary.

Any historical review of the American Football League should remember the Houston Oilers for three things: owner Bud Adams' wallet, the league's first dynasty and a relentless willingness to sling the ball.

Adams' oil money was the reason Lamar Hunt phoned in 1959 with the idea of starting the AFL to rival the NFL, a long-established league that nevertheless underserved many markets, including Texas. Hunt believed his Dallas Texans and Houston could forge a Texas rivalry that would help springboard the infant league into legitimacy.

Adams doesn't get the credit he deserves as the AFL's co-founder — and remains snubbed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, even as his peer Ralph Wilson gained entry — but it should be noted that the league's formation was announced in the boardroom of his company.

The league's first eight owners were called the "The Foolish Club," because few believed it would make good on its goal of forcing a merger.

"I said maybe we are," says Adams, who (like Hunt) had made a failed bid to buy the NFL's Chicago Cardinals. "I said we'll find out in a hurry how foolish we are."

Some think it's a little foolish that Adams isn't a Hall of Famer, unlike Hunt and the Buffalo Bills' Wilson.

"They did it together, and I consider Bud every bit as instrumental as Lamar. He definitely ought to be in the Hall," says Charley Hennigan, who became a record-setting receiver on the Oilers teams that won the first two AFL championships in 1960-61 and lost the third title game in double overtime to the Texans. (The Oilers did not win another playoff game until 1978, and they never reached the Super Bowl while based in Houston.)

Hennigan, 74, embodies much of what the early AFL, and the Oilers, were all about.

He was 25, had served in the military and had a wife and two children when the 1960 training camp opened with about 200 candidates fighting for 33 roster spots.

Hennigan quit a Louisiana teaching job, telling an angry boss, "I've got to do it, because I love football."

He taped a pay stub from the $4,000-a-year teaching job into his helmet and, "I used that as a motivation tool, to know I'd burned my bridges." In Houston, he signed on for the grand sum of $7,500.

His prospects with the Oilers weren't good, considering he had been deemed too small for football while trying out at LSU. He also had washed out during a Canadian Football League audition. But he showed good speed when he returned to Louisiana and played for Northwest State, the same school that gave the 1960 Oilers Charlie Tolar, the 5-6 running back known as the "Human Bowling Ball."

Fortunately for Hennigan, he was friends with the biggest name reeled in by Houston — LSU's 1959 Heisman Trophy winner, Billy Cannon. In the AFL's first notable bidding war with the NFL, Adams had signed Cannon by doubling the offer he received from the Los Angeles Rams. The owner also ultimately added his wife's Cadillac to the deal.

"When we were trying out for the team, we ran 50-yard dashes instead of 40s, and Billy would let me win by a half step," Hennigan says of Cannon. "He's been a friend of mine for years and years."

Long term, Cannon's generosity paid off for the Oilers.

Hennigan set an AFL record with 101 catches in 1964, breaking the record of 100 Lionel Taylor set for the Denver Broncos in 1961. [The first two players in Professional Football HISTORY to catch 100 or more passes in a season.]

Hennigan's mark stood until Hall of Famer Art Monk had 106 catches for the Washington Redskins in 1984.

But Hennigan gives equal weight to his 1961 season, when his 82 receptions for 1,746 yards included three 200-yard games.

The quarterback making all those throws was George Blanda, who had retired from the Chicago Bears after the 1958 season because he was being used almost solely as a kicker.

Blanda stayed with the Oilers through 1966, then played for the Oakland Raiders through 1975. He set the tone for Houston's air attack, leading the AFL in passing yards in 1961 and 1963.

His 36 touchdown passes in 1961 were the most by any AFL or NFL quarterback, remaining the single-season record until Dan Marino threw 48 in 1984.

"George weighed about 230, and both of his knees looked like railroad tracks from all the stitches," Hennigan says. "We had dinner together a lot, and he knew everything. He was like having another coach out there, on the field."

Hennigan says that era's emphasis on man-to-man coverage helped early AFL teams amass passing yardage. Another factor was that smart receivers could take advantage of fields that sometimes seemed like obstacle courses.

Each goalpost was anchored in two spots, instead of today's "Y" configuration, and the posts were on the goal line. Receivers could use those posts to get separation from defenders, the way a basketball player uses a pick, "and we'd go in and score," he says.

Also, "sometimes we would grab on to the goalpost, swing around and go back out to the corner," Hennigan says.

And in stadiums that were shared with baseball teams, "sometimes you'd have a pitcher's mound that you'd work. You'd take the defender over the mound and lose him, make him run uphill."

Houston's other prolific receiver in its championship seasons was Bill Groman. In the AFL's inaugural season, he led all receivers with 1,473 yards, and in 1961 his 17 touchdowns were the most by any pass-catcher.

Groman went on to be an NFL scout for 36 years, with several clubs, including the Oilers. But his AFL career was nearly cut short in 1960 when he was slow to recover from an injury, displeasing coach Lou Rymkus.

Groman says his rehab was curtailed because, "we only had one whirlpool, one of those old stainless-steel ones. By the time I'd get in, the thing was ice cold, because I had to wait my turn behind Cannon and Blanda."

Luckily for Groman, he had been recommended to the Oilers by an old friend of Rymkus, Bob Snyder, who had been a Pro Bowl quarterback for the Bears in the 1940s. "He convinced Lou to wait and give me a shot," Groman says.

That decision was validated by a Groman touchdown catch in the first AFL championship game, which Houston won 24-16 against the Los Angeles Chargers, who had Jack Kemp at quarterback. The eight-point spread in the waning moments was important, too, because the AFL had the two-point conversion then, unlike the NFL.

In the title game, Blanda milked his 16 completions for 301 yards, including an 88-yard touchdown pass to Cannon. Groman had three catches and Hennigan four.

Like Hennigan, Groman also had left a teaching job to take his shot at the pros, where he earned $8,000 his first season.

"The main thing I remember is just how much fun it was," says Groman, who had played at Division III Heidelberg in Ohio. "It wasn't so much a business then as it is now. It was like a family. None of us made big money, but it was good money."

The Oilers won their first championship at their home park in Houston, in front of a crowd of 32,183 at Jeppesen Stadium. Just as the Oilers moved on after the 1996 season and were ultimately rechristened the Tennessee Titans, so has Jeppesen been renamed Robertson Stadium.

Groman still lives in Houston and goes to the stadium to watch the University of Houston's football team and to remember his Oilers.

The first championship team, he says, was given small gold footballs with "1960" embossed on them, instead of championship rings. Adams corrected that when the team had its 20th reunion, when he gave the players rings.

Groman, 73, also has championship rings from 1961 with the Oilers, and from 1964 and 1965, with Buffalo. He also played for the Broncos in 1963.

"I think I've got more rings than anybody else from the AFL," he says, but he savors the memories as much as the awards. He remembers Adams going around to talk to his players on every team flight and says that every time Houston played Dallas, "Lamar Hunt would always come into our locker room after the game."

"We all wanted it to happen," Groman says, "and we were all happy to be there."

          Taylor and Hennigan set not only American Football League records, but records for all of Professional Football.  The unfortunate part of the Oilers' history is that though they were champions of the American Football League in its first two years, the team no longer exists. When the NFL's Browns left Cleveland, the league did everything to enable the city's fans to retain the tradition, colors and name of their team, an old-line NFL franchise.
          But the NFL didn't make any effort to have an original AMERICAN FOOTBALL LEAGUE city keep ITS heritage. Further, Bud Adams was allowed to establish a league rule, stating that Houston (nor any other city) can NEVER name a team the OILERS.
~ REMEMBER the AFL

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USA TODAY Series on the AFL:  

  How the AFL changed the NFL
   Boston Patriots
   Miami Dolphins
     CincinNati Bengals
    Denver Broncos
     Los Angeles/San Diego CHARGERS
    OAKLAND RAIDERS
     Dallas Texans/Kansas City Chiefs
    New York TITANS/JETS
    BUFFALO BILLS

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Last revision: 20 July 2012 ~ Angelo F. Coniglio, nospam.RemembertheAFL@aol.com