January 24 , 2000
End of an Era
By Jimmy Mohr
The Oilers have finally made it to the Super Bowl. Well, not really. These 1999 Tennessee Titans are everything our Houston Oilers never were, or could ever be. The Titans win the games that count, and now call themselves AFC Champions.
Does anybody really think that the Miracle at Adelphia would have happened if this team still resided in Houston? Frank Wychecks lateral would have been ruled a forward pass upon further review, or, better yet, Kevin Dyson would have tripped at the five yard line as time expired. Either way, it would have been the same old ending to the same old story. So, when that runback happened, I thought to myself, “The Oiler demons had finally been exorcised.” In my mind, that one play signified the end of the Oiler era.
Then, in the championship game against the Jaguars, the old Oiler “luck” tried to rear its ugly head, only to have the Titans swat it back down. Frank Wychecks fumble at the one-yard line and Jevon Kearses fumbled lateral were both huge, late blunders, or so it appeared at the time. But both actually turned into positives. After Wychecks fumble, Tennessee netted a safety and then a kickoff return, tallying 9 points without the offense ever stepping back onto the field. In a strange twist, one the Oilers would have never gotten, Wycheck’s turnover actually recaptured the momentum needed to carry the Titans the rest of the way. After The Freak botched a lateral attempt deep in Jacksonville territory, the Titans turned right around and intercepted a Mark Brunell pass to end the game. These are no Oilers.
For the longest time, I thought I was the reason none of my Houston teams were champions. The Astros, Rockets and Oilers had all been close, yet none were able to finish the deal. In 1994, the Rockets proved my theory wrong, and I anticipated a Super Bowl berth for the Oilers would soon follow. We all know how wrong I was. I now know that the Oilers would have never made it the Super Bowl in my lifetime. At least, I’d like to try and convince myself of that now that the Titans are the AFC Champs, formerly known as the Oilers.
This AFC Championship game was difficult to watch. I thought back to the two Pittsburgh playoff losses in 79 and 80, to the Raiders’ game in 81, to the Bronco game, the Bills game and the Chiefs game… did I miss any? My indifference toward the Titans during the regular season transformed into emotional turmoil during the Jacksonville contest: do I root for these guys? Or do I wish them a typical Oiler playoff death?
Ultimately, I found myself pulling for them. If for no other reason, to get Bruce Matthews the championship he deserves. I was glad to read in the Houston Chronicle last week that Mathews was thinking about all the fans back in Oilerville that never got to experience a Super Bowl. He also said that the Astrodome is still the loudest place he ever played in. Damn right. Bruce would have traded all of his trips to the Pro Bowl for just one shot at the Lombardi Trophy. Little did he know, all he had to do was move to Nashville.
I can see it now: the Titans will triumph in Atlanta next week. This team is destined to win the whole damn thing. And they will do it no matter who their opponent is. It will be a fairy tale ending to a roller coaster ride that no franchise has ever been on before. And it could not have happened to a better guy than Bud Adams — I hope a piece of sausage lodges in his throat for the way things have turned out. He probably feels as though he was owed a Super Bowl. I think he should box it up and ship it to the Houston fans that stuck around during all of those debilitating years.
The Tennessee fans have no idea what we went through to get where they ended up in a mere three years. Nor do they care. And if they happen to get the Rockets too, I’m officially declaring war on the state of Tennessee.
For all its worth, there is hope for the new Houston franchise. The success of Jacksonville proves that expansion teams do not necessarily have to wait 33 Super Bowls like the Oilers did. They are bound to be there within the next few years, barring a Titan dynasty. Dynasty? I think Im going to cry. Kevin Dyson Return to Houston Pro Football If you have a question, comment or suggestion, contact Jimmy Find out what other staff members thought of the Titans’ Super Bowl run.