Titans/Oilers franchise, AFL celebrates 50th anniversary in 2009

A year after celebrating the 10th season as the Tennessee Titans, the team will mark another special occasion in 2009 — the 50th anniversary of the founding of the team and the formation of the American Football League.

In 1959, after failing to acquire NFL franchises through expansion or purchase, Lamar Hunt and K.S. "Bud" Adams, Jr. resolved to form a new, competing professional football league. Hunt and Adams recruited other owners, who like themselves were looking to enter the world of football ownership but had been rebuffed. The eight original teams, whose owners would later be dubbed the "Foolish Club" for taking on the NFL, were: the Houston Oilers (later to be known as the Tennessee Titans), Dallas Texans (Kansas City Chiefs), Denver Broncos, New York Titans (New York Jets), Los Angeles Chargers (San Diego Chargers), Buffalo Bills, Boston Patriots (New England Patriots) and Oakland Raiders. Oakland received a franchise after Minnesota, initially in the AFL group, and was awarded an NFL expansion team.

The AFL played its first games in 1960, and Adams' Oilers went on to win the first two AFL Championships. The Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins were added to the league later in the decade, and in 1970, the AFL and NFL were officially merged, becoming the American Football Conference and the National Football Conference.

The NFL will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the AFL in 2009 with a logo and uniform patch. Additionally, the original AFL clubs will wear special throwback uniforms for select games. The Titans play five games against former AFL opponents (Bills, Chargers, Dolphins, Patriots and Jets).

Historic dates in the founding of the Houston Oilers and formation of the American Football League:

• August 3, 1959: K.S. "Bud" Adams, Jr. announces Houston's entry into the American Football League.

• August 15, 1959: The AFL is formally organized with six cities: Los Angeles, New York, Denver, Dallas, Houston and Minneapolis-St Paul (Minneapolis-St. Paul later replaced by Oakland). Buffalo and Boston are added as the seventh and eighth teams later in 1959.

• October 31, 1959: Adams names the team the "Oilers" for "for sentimental and social reasons."

• November 22, 1959: In the first AFL player draft, which lasts 33 rounds, the Oilers select Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon of LSU.

• September 11, 1960: The Oilers defeat the Oakland Raiders 37-22 in their first regular season game.

• January 1, 1961: The Oilers win the first AFL Championship by defeating the Los Angeles Chargers 24-16.

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