#1. Original AFL owner offered NFL franchise instead
Bud Adams was a wealthy man who owned Adams Resources & Energy, a company that sold crude oil and natural gas.
Adams attempted to purchase an NFL expansion team in the late 1950’s. The problem was, the NFL had zero intentions of expanding. He then became the second franchise owner in the upstart American Football League (AFL) and called his club the Houston Oilers.
When the NFL go wind of a new league starting, they attempted to squash it before it could get any traction. In the past, new leagues only escalated player salaries out of sight. The NFL’s strategy was to entice the owners that had committed to AFL franchises to simply become minority owners of existing NFL franchises instead; then the new league would disband altogether.
Or in the case of Adams, allow him to have his own NFL franchise as a true expansion club. Which in itself was an oddity because the other AFL owners were only offered minority shares of existing NFL clubs.
The AFL had plans on an eight team league and they had just gotten a commitment from an owner for the eighth and final team. The league would begin play in 1960. Chicago Bears’ owner George Halas was head of the NFL Expansion Committee who stated that the NFL was indeed going to expand into four new cities, beginning with Dallas and Minneapolis, and then to Houston and a city to be announced later. Coincidentally, these were all AFL cities.
Halas tried to broker a deal and offered Adams the Houston expansion team. Adams told Halas that he was a man of his word and would proceed with the new league.
The Oilers remained in Houston until 1997 when they relocated to Memphis, Tennessee and became the Tennessee Oilers. The next year they moved again to their intended resting spot of Nashville and were renamed the Tennessee Titans.
#2. Multiple Texans teams
After the Oilers left town in 1997, there were several groups that worked hard at getting another NFL franchise into Houston. Attempts were made to buy a few existing clubs and relocate them, but in the end the City of Houston was used as a pawn to help the other clubs get better concessions or stadium deals from their current city.
In 2002, the City of Houston was granted an expansion franchise to which they were named the “Houston Texans.”
But in the annals of pro football history, there have been many that have called their team the “Texans.” Of course, if you are from the State of Texas, the fact that you are a Texan is something to be proud of and brag big about. So, it is only fitting that an owner would want his team to be called folks who live in the great State of Texas.
The team name “Texans” has been used by a multitude of pro football clubs over the decades. Here is a list of clubs that have called themselves “the Texans:”
1952 Dallas Texans - NFL
1960-1962 Dallas Texans - AFL
1974 Houston Texans - World Football League
1978 Austin Texans – American Football Association (Indoor)
1990-1992 Dallas Texans – Arena Football League (Indoor)
1995 San Antonio Texans – Canadian Football League
2002- present Houston Texans - NFL
#3. Proposed names other than Texans
Before the team name “Texans” was announced for the new Houston expansion club, there was a long list which was whittled down to a short list of possible monikers.
Eventually, the list was pared down to five possibilities: Apollos, Bobcats, Stallions, Texans and Wildcatters.
The Houston expansion team put together several focus groups and did research sessions including an online survey. All of this narrowed the field down to Apollos, as a nod to the space program, plus Western representation Stallions and Texans. The final two were regional gestures.
The unveiling of the team name was revealed at a rally in downtown Houston to which new owner Bob McNair disclosed the name he had chosen: Texans.