It was 54 years ago that Bud Adams and Lamar Hunt announced that they had created the American Football League to compete with the National Football League.
Adams, a World War II veteran, won 409 games with his organization, the Houston Oilers—two of those were the first AFL titles in 1960 and 1961, reports NFL.com.
But Adams’s legacy has come to an end. He passed away in his Houston, Texas home on Monday, October 21 from natural causes. He was 90.
“Bud Adams played a pivotal role in the growth of pro football as a pioneer and innovator,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “As a founding owner of the American Football League that began play in 1960, Bud saw the potential of pro football and brought the game to new cities and new heights of popularity, first in Houston and then in Nashville.”
Adam moved the Houston Oilers to Tennessee in 1997, soon after the team became the Titans, reports the New York Times.
He was born Kenneth Stanley Adams Jr. on January 23, 1923 in the Cherokee Nation City of Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Cherokee Principal Chief Bill John Baker said in a statement about Adams’ death that he never lost touch with his Cherokee heritage.
“People may be surprised to know that his Cherokee roots included his maternal uncle, W.W. Keeler, who served as Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation for more than two decades,” Baker said in the statement. “Through the years Bud Adams was one of the Cherokee Heritage Center’s staunchest supporters, serving on its executive board and making generous contributions that established attractions such as the Adams Corner Rural Village in 1979 in honor of his mother, Blanch Keeler Adams. Endowments and continuing support from Adams have had a broad impact on Cherokees and other visitors to the Cherokee Heritage Center.”
Adams was honored for those contributions by the Cherokee National Historical Society in 2000.
His wife, Nancy, died in 2009, but he is survived by two daughters, Susie Smith and Amy Strunk; and seven grandchildren. His son, Kenneth III, died in 1987.