February 1, 2000
From the Bottom of My Heart…
by Ric Sweeney
As so often happens in these circumstances, when you are spontaneously asked to give thanks on behalf of so many people (in this case, the many Houstonians who disavowed any and all ties to the Oilers once their offices on Fannin closed shop), I may, in my haste, leave out a deserving name or two. Thus, I apologize in advance to those I may miss who belong on this list. Now then, with that formality out of the way, I have some important post-Super Bowl “Thank yous” I’d like to pass along.
I would first, and foremost, like to thank Mr. Bud Adams. And I mean one of those sincere, bottom-of-the-heart thank you’s. For had Adams not been the public relations nightmare that he was, parting with the Oilers might have been much more difficult, or, at the very least, a lengthy and drawn out legal hassle. As it was, after one too many rambling, incoherent press conferences from Adams, in which he angled for sympathy by playing us all for fools, we not only wanted him out the door, but didn’t mind if it happened to hit him where the sun never dared shine on his way out. Again, Mr. Adams, thank you!
Also, it would be inconsiderate of me to thank Adams without also saving equal warmth and well-wishes for his nemesis, former mayor Bob Lanier. Had Lanier not allowed his negotiations with Adams to turn personal, blinding him to the realities of keeping the Oilers in town, he might have stalled Adams’ inevitable departure. Instead, he engaged the rotund owner in a pissing contest that helped hasten Bud’s exit. Great work, Bob!
And how about Rocket owner Les Alexander? It was Alexander’s ultimate refusal to sink his franchise into an ill-fated, ill-conceived Oiler/Rocket domed facility that sent Adams reeling and off to cousin-kissing country. We knew you could do it, Les! Props also to the people of San Antonio for sticking their Spurs in the decrepit Alamodome. It was Alexander’s visit to your spacious and ultimately vapid arena that convinced him his Rockets needed a place of their own and not a converted football stadium. Had he stayed on board with the “Bud Dome,” Bud would still be in Houston and the Titans would still be known as the Oilers. Remember the Alamo…dome!
And, hey! Let’s not forget the Astrodome grounds crew. Had they not sacrificed their integrity and “found” a hole in the floor of the football field during a 1995 exhibition game, forcing the NFL to cancel it, would Bud have had a leg to stand on in his overtures about the Dome’s inadequacy? Further, would Adams have been able to secure the support of lackey Paul Tagliabue in his quest for a better (read: more profitable) facility? It was Tagliabue who rallied support for Adams’ plight in Houston, which made his proposed move a mere formality among the other owners.
Thanks also needs to go to the ten people who actually bothered to show up for the “Save the Oilers” rally in downtown Houston. Had there been any breadth to your numbers, you might have swayed either Adams or Lanier off their position. Instead, you became the symbol of supposed fan disinterest in Houston. Thumbs up, people!
Finally, I want to thank, and I mean really thank, Nashville Mayor Phil Bedesen for blindly pursuing the Oilers without a single clue as to what you were getting you and your citizens into. I guess you had a small taste of it Sunday night – just wait until the team asks you to digest that kind of disappointment for 37 years. This team, no matter what they call themselves and no matter where they play, still only knows one thing: heartbreak. It’s what they do best, and I dare say, they do it better than anyone.
You see, I come today to praise these people, individuals who are usually the object of ridicule and scorn, because had they all not banded together for a common cause – running Bud Adams out of Houston – then Kevin Dyson would have been decked out in Columbia blue, and the Oilers, not the Titans, would have come up a yard short in the franchise’s first-ever Super Bowl. And had I been forced to endure such a crushing denouement, as a fan, already living down 35-3, John Elway, Mike Renfro… I might very well have run crazily into oncoming traffic on the Southwest Freeway, looking for a speeding motorist to put me out of my misery. How in the world could I have possibly lived through such an excruciating ending to a game I was waiting two decades to see?
Instead, I sat with beer in hand and thought, “Thank God they’re not my team anymore…”
Ric Sweeney would like to remind all “Houston” Titan fans that the city of Nashville is still located in Tennessee and has not, so far as he knows, been relocated to Texas.