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Old 08-18-2009   #35
The Right Track
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Default Re: Bud looking pretty bad

I believe that the single biggest factor in the Oilers leaving was 36 years of truly terrible public relations from the Houston Oilers and I do lay that at the feet of Bud Adams. I've never seen an organization make so many mistakes and stumble into so many public relations nightmares. The Houston Oilers of the 1960's were by and large a minor league team who won two titles that nobody cared about. They played in a high school stadium and had almost no stability. They won big for three seasons right out of the gate before anybody was paying attention and then posted one winning season in the next 12 years. Up until Earl Campbell arrived there was not one truly compelling reason to care about the Houston Oilers.

I've always said that the Luv Ya Blue Oilers were Houston's pro sports "first love" but they were around 18 years before we felt any real affection for them and when we did it was because of (pretty much) one player and one coach. If there's no Bum & Earl then the Oilers probably move to Jacksonville or some other town a lot sooner than they did. What does Bud Adams do though? He fires Bum Phillips and in so doing he heaps upon his own back an entire cities hatred. A few years later his GM trades Earl Campbell who is possibly the single most beloved athlete in the cities history. Again Bud gives us a reason to hate him.

He is notoriously cheap in paying players (this is widely known) and then when he finally overcomes this he remains notoriously cheap in paying coaches. His facilities reflect the miserly manner in which he conducts his business and again this is common knowledge. He hires people who embarrass the city of Houston. He hires coaches like Jerry Glanville whose bizarre ego needs feeding to the degree that he begins to actually make games harder for his team to win. We all remember the beat downs at the hands of the Bengals and the sight of Chuck Noll lecturing the midget in black at midfield. All of this we lay at the feet of Bud Adams.

He holds the city hostage in the early days of "franchise free agency" by threatening to move the team to Jacksonville and the eventual cost is the scoreboard in the Astrodome. It's something we love and we give it up to keep Bud's team here but we add this to the total we're keeping in our heads. The bill is a big one but we like football and the Oilers are getting better. When Glanville leaves Jack Pardee becomes the coach (a rare "good" PR move on Bud's part) and suddenly we're feeling like maybe there was a point to all of this.

It's about this time that I recall Bud Adams attempting to win a chance to host the Super Bowl for Houston. I remember this event clearly and I recall how suddenly people all around me seemed ready to bury the hatchet with Bud. I really think that we all saw him briefly in a new light as we heard of the proposal and as Bud talked to reporters and did interviews. Suddenly Bud was going to go to bat for the entire city and try and bring the big game back to town. I remember feeling badly not just for Houston but for Adams when this didn't get the owners approval. I though the man looked so let down over this failure and I know I wasn't alone there.

Then came Buffalo and all the ill-feeling that game generated. Then came Kansas City followed by 2-14. We all knew the run was over but that's the moment Bud chose to bring us a crackpot scheme for a new stadium that would not only have made him ridiculously wealthy but also (and more importantly) made him Les Alexander's "daddy". Bud wanted the "Bud Dome" to be his own version of Drayton McClane's money machine. It wasn't just about the seating or the facilities. Yes they were aging but more important than all of that it was about the lease and the concessions money and the parking. It was about all the things that went to Drayton when Bud's team played. It wasn't enough for Bud to merely get out of that situation. I think most people could understand where he was coming from there. It was that he also wanted to do the exact same thing to somebody else. He wanted to be on top and screwing Les Alexander out of his parking and his concessions as well. Les isn't that stupid though and would never have agreed to that deal even if we had been suckered into it.

When he finally began the discussions with Nashville I know that I was made aware of it at about the same time I found out that an exclusive negotiating agreement existed between Nashville and the Oilers. I wanted the city to get involved but it was over before I knew what happened. I learned all of the details about it sort of after the fact and looking back I don't think I would change anything now.

The firings, the timing of his demands, the way he tried to blackmail the city and the cost of keeping him happy. The kind of people he hired and the way they brought ridicule and shame to this city. All of these things combined added to that one terrible day in Buffalo made Bud Adams the most loathed owner in all of professional football. Some people say that Art Modell is the most hated owner (in Cleveland of course, not in Baltimore) and I can see where a case can easily be made for that but most of the country overlooks or is unaware of the confusing and painful relationship that we here in Houston have with Bud Adams. It wasn't a case of wanting to avenge ourselves on him. We just wanted to be rid of him and if it cost us the team to do it then so be it.

It's not like 36 years of living with Bud hadn't already conditioned us to accept the loss of people and things we cared about. The Oilers time here was one long painful stretch of Lucy holding that football up and inviting you to kick it. It was good times always followed by bad times and when you were trying to deal with the bad times you could be sure that Bud was waiting around the corner to make them just a little bit worse in some way. Was it intentional or out of malice? I don't think so. I think Bud never had clue one about how to cultivate goodwill among the public, his customers. I don't think he had any idea how to run a business that must coax the public to embrace it. He just didn't care about that. The name "Bottom-Line Bud" was given to him for a reason. He's more comfortable dealing with a customer in the form of another company buying his oil or services. John Q. Public is a mystery to him and always will be.

He doesn't see them at all. At least he didn't for all those years he was here plowing through chances to be the patriarch of Houston sports owners like a bull in a china shop. The reason he doesn't see them is exactly as Double Barrell stated. He was always such a greedy son of a *****.

Today he's not greedy and he's not all that much of a liability. He's still where the buck stops but he's old and other people insulate the public from Bud and vice-versa. He'll be dead soon and it won't matter anymore but for at least a few more years he'll be around to play the part of pretend elder statesman. There is something that I wonder about Bud though. A nagging thought I have where he's concerned. He's not in the HOF is he? I know Lamar Hunt is and I saw that Ralph Wilson was inducted this year. Al Davis is too. I remember on the HOF game hearing that Ralph and Bud were the last two surviving members of "The Foolish Club". I wonder how many others in that group are in the hall?

How could he be "co-founder of the AFL" and not be in the HOF? Bud isn't there though and here is the reason why. It's the same reason his fellow owners didn't give him the time of day when he went to them to plead his case for a Super Bowl. Bud doesn't inspire anyone. He just collects the money.
Fitz makes bad decisions. That's not going to change.
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