Why Did the Houston Oilers Change Their Name to the Houston Texans? (Full Explanation)

Last Updated on May 27, 2023 by Alex PT

The name changed because the Houston Oilers had moved from Houston to Tennessee. Houston acquired a franchise, and its name became the Houston Texans. The Houston Oilers were initially based in Houston, Texas, until 1996, when they moved to Tennessee, changed their name to the Tennessee Oilers, and later the Titans. Why did the team change its name from the Oilers to the Texans? The Houston Texans is an extension team that started playing in 2002.

This article looks at what led to the move, why it happened, and how the fans felt about it. Also, you will learn why it was such a great move for the team, even though it meant leaving Houston.

A Brief History of the Houston Oilers

The Houston Oilers were a professional American football team that played in Houston, Texas, from 1960 to 1996. They were founded in 1959 as a charter member of the American Football League (AFL).

The Oilers won the first two AFL Championships and joined the NFL as part of the AFL–NFL merger in 1970. The team played their home games at the Astrodome for their first 35 years, from 1960 to 1964 and 1967 to 1996. In 1997, the team moved east to Tennessee and became the Tennessee Titans

The Oilers didn’t change their name to the Houston Texans but left Tennessee and became the Titans, making the city of Houston without an NFL team. The current Houston Texans were founded by a different owner and became the league’s newest team.

When the Oilers moved to Tennessee in the late ’90s, it was after much of a fruitless loan saga as the Houston politicians refused to help Bud Adams, who wanted to build a new fitting stadium in Houston. Luckily for Bud, he found the required funding in Nashville and moved the Oilers to Tennessee, where their name changed to the Titans.

The franchise-based in Houston, known as the Texans, was a team created as an expansion team for several years. When Houston politicians realized their earlier mistake, they agreed to build a stadium fully financed by taxpayers’ money.

The bad blood between the Oilers and Houston Texans has been intense since. This has been aided by the NFL rule allowing one color helmet. This enables the Titans to do their throwback Oilers uniform, including the iconic Derrick on their helmet, in a slated game against the Texans.

Why Did Houston Oilers Move to Tennessee?

Why did Houston’s Oilers move to Tennessee

Bud Adams wanted a new and fancy stadium. He wasn’t too popular, especially after his employment was an effect of the sack of Bum Philips, and he went all wrong about wanting a new stadium. Perhaps, the NFL officials said the turf wasn’t safe for play. Stating that the city didn’t care about him. The old saying, “if he were fire, I wouldn’t piss on him just to put him out,” most of the residents at Harris County felt that way about Bud.

He was known to be crude, rude, beady-eyed old, and just an embarrassment to fans. But he was Rich! The Astrodome didn’t have enough suites for Bud to generate the money that the NFL owners with newer stadiums were making. However, Tennessee was desperate for a team, so they built him a stadium.

The Beginning Days of the Houston Texans

The Houston Texans franchise was first established in 2002. The team’s name was originally the Houston Oilers, but the new owner, Bob MacNair, changed it to the Houston Texans before the start of their inaugural season in 2002. The change reflected the city’s more diverse population and culture. Bob McNair was so loved in Houston. He was a successful, down-to-earth businessman who made it happen.

The reason for the name change has been a source of speculation and debate ever since. Some believe it was simply a marketing ploy to appeal to a broader audience, while others think it was done out of respect for the city’s history and culture.

Whatever the reason, the name change has been a success. The Houston Texans are among the most popular teams in the NFL, and their fans are some of the most passionate in all sports.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Gretzky Own Shares in the Oilers?

Following the bankruptcy of the Phoenix Coyotes in September 2009, Gretzky resigned from his position as head coach and relinquished his ownership share. In October 2016, he became the new partner and vice-chairman of Oilers Entertainment Group.

Can Houston Get the Oilers’ Name Back?

There are no such lawsuits to keep the Oilers franchise and history in Houston, meaning that the trademark does not belong to the city. In return, the days of Earl Campbell and Warren Moon jerseys will remain in the past and won’t be worn at NRG Stadium any time soon.

How Did the Titans Get Their Name?

The committee chose Titans, citing the desire to have a nickname that reflected leadership, strength, and other heroic qualities. It has always been known to come from early Greek mythology, and the fact that Nashville is known as the ‘Athens of the South’ makes the Titans name suitable and appropriate.

What Year Did the Oilers Change their Name?

In 1997, the Oilers became the first team in NFL  to regard Tennessee as home when the franchise relocated to the Volunteer State. Two years later, in 1999, the franchise dropped the nickname Oilers and became the Titans.


The Oilers didn’t change their name to Texans, but the Houston Oilers moved to Tennessee and became the Tennessee Oilers (later changed their names to the Titans). Houston acquired another franchise that became the Texans (it is worthy of note that the Tennessee team was still going by the Oilers name at that time).

After doing some research, it appears that the most likely reason the Oilers changed their name to the Texans was due to a change in ownership. The new owner, Bob McNair, wanted a name that would reflect the city of Houston and its southern roots. Another possibility is that McNair wanted to start fresh with a new name and identity for the team. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that the name change was not made lightly or without thoughtfulness.

Reference 1: https://sport-net.org/why-did-houston-change-from-oilers-to-texans-2/

Reference 2: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Houston_Oilers

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