Titans Won't Don 'Tennessee Oilers' Throwbacks in 2020

David Boclair

NASHVILLE – It was meant as a history lesson, not a glimpse into the future.

In short: The Tennessee Titans will not play a game this fall dressed as the Tennessee Oilers.

The team’s official Twitter account created a buzz Friday morning with a collection of photos that suggested throwback uniforms were on tap for the 2020 season, perhaps the Week 3 game at Minnesota. That contest is scheduled for Sept. 27 (aka 9/27), and two of the photos included Titans/Oilers greats Steve McNair (No. 9) and Eddie George (No. 27). Another showed franchise founder, the late K.S. Bud Adams, holding a T-shirt with the Tennessee Oilers logo.

Within an hour, “Tennessee Oilers” was trending on Twitter.

The reality is that a debate began earlier in the morning when ESPN’s Adam Schefter listed six professional sports franchises (three from the NBA and one each from the NFL, NHL and MLB) that had changed names without moving. That post was tied to the possibility that the Washington Redskins finally will explore a long-debated name change for that franchise.

The Titans were the NFL club on that list, and their inclusion created discussion as numerous people responded with the belief that they became the Titans immediately upon their relocation from Houston.

For two years, though, they were the Tennessee Oilers (1997-98) before they rebranded in response to strong public sentiment locally. The team’s tweet was meant as visual evidence of that fact.

Again, there are no plans for the Tennessee Oilers uniforms to be used this fall. In fact, an NFL rule mandates that players have to wear the same helmet throughout the year for safety. So, even if they wore the familiar jerseys and pants, the helmets would not match.

The franchise was founded in 1960 as the Houston Oilers, one of the original members of the American Football League.

Founder K.S. “Bud” Adams moved the team in 1997. It played home games that first year at the Liberty Bowl in Memphis and in 1998 at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville. In each case the Oilers finished 8-8 and missed the playoffs. Both years the Oilers ranked last in the NFL in home attendance, just as they did in 1996, their lame duck season in Houston.

Following the rebrand, they sold out every 1999 game at what is now known as Nissan Stadium and finished 14th in the league in home attendance.

In 2018, controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk, a daughter of the franchise founder, commissioned a redesign of the team’s look and those uniforms have been used for the last two seasons.

And that will be the look for all of 2020 as well.