What are the worst moments for each NFL franchise? Yahoo Sports provides our opinion, which you are free to disagree with (and we’re sure you will).
5. Bud Adams flips the bird
Bud Adams was an old-school Texan who made one fortune from oil and another from parlaying an AFL franchise into an NFL one. Late in life, after moving his Houston Oilers to Tennessee, he was crusty and unforgiving, and during a 2009 game against the Buffalo Bills, that nature came back to bite him. Adams flipped the bird several times at Buffalo fans, once from the luxury box and once from the sideline, in the midst of a 41-17 victory over the Bills. (Ironically, Adams and then-Bills owner Ralph Wilson were longtime associates, having brought their respective teams into the NFL decades before.) Adams’ penalty? A whopping $250,000. Those were some costly fingers.
4. Memphis Oilers
After a dismal 1996 season both on the field and in the stands, Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams decreed that he would move the team to Tennessee, which at the time had no professional sports franchises. One problem: there was nowhere to play in Adams’ planned destination of Nashville outside of Vanderbilt’s stadium. So Adams hatched a plan to play games in Memphis, three hours down the road, while claiming Nashville as home. It was the rare plan that made exactly nobody happy. Nashville fans didn’t make the drive to see the “Tennessee Oilers,” and Memphis fans weren’t satisfied with being babysitters. Adams killed the experiment after just one season, moving the team to Vanderbilt’s stadium until Nissan Stadium, then known as Adelphia Coliseum, opened in 1999.
3. One yard short
With just seconds remaining in Super Bowl XXXIV, the Titans trailed the then-St. Louis Rams 24-17. At the Rams’ 10, the Titans had one play left and tried to open up the field by sending multiple receivers wide while leaving the interior free for a Kevin Dyson slant. Dyson caught Steve McNair’s pass in stride, but Rams linebacker Mike Jones wrapped him up at the three-yard line. Dyson stretched, but the ball still fell one yard short of the end zone as time ran out. Did McNair throw too early? Did Dyson run his route too tightly? Did the Titans’ receivers not do enough to draw off Jones? In the end, it didn’t matter, as Tennessee fell mere feet short of glory.
2. Blowing it in Buffalo
The Titans claim all of the Houston Oilers’ history, and that means they’re stuck with this, one of the ugliest collapses in NFL history. The scene: Houston had traveled to Buffalo for the wild card game following the 1992 NFL season. Buffalo was coming off a second straight Super Bowl loss, and didn’t appear destined to get a third chance, as the Oilers jumped to an early lead and piled it up to 35-3 with 13 minutes remaining in the third quarter. But backup quarterback Frank Reich, starting in place of injured starter Jim Kelly, had engineered what was then the greatest comeback in college history, rallying Maryland from a 31-point deficit to beat Miami. He pulled off a similar feat in Buffalo, as the Bills used a combination of precise drives, onside kicks, Oiler defensive turnovers and plain old luck to force overtime. That didn’t last long, as the Oilers’ Warren Moon threw an interception that left Buffalo on the Houston 20. Three plays later, kicker Steve Christie booted through the winning field goal, advancing Buffalo and dealing the Houston franchise the worst loss possible in a lifetime’s worth of them.
1. McNair’s tragedy
Steve McNair remains one of the most beloved figures in Titans’ history, which makes his sad ending all the more tragic. McNair played for the Oilers/Titans for a decade, from 1995 to 2005, and led the team to its only Super Bowl appearance, before closing out his career with two seasons in Baltimore. After he retired, he returned to Nashville, where he lived with his wife of more than a decade and their two children. But on July 4, 2009, McNair was found dead of multiple gunshot wounds in a condo he owned. Friends who had been unable to locate McNair found him next to the body of a woman; evidence at the scene indicated that McNair was the victim of a murder/suicide. The Titans held a two-day memorial at Nissan Field, and the team wore a No. 9 patch on their helmets for the 2009 season.