A FRESH START
How a branding shake-up could be first domino in wholesale Houston Texans changes
Last week Houston Texans management announced they were considering changing the team’s uniform colors for 2023, and they were asking for suggestions from fans. The decision actually had been in the works for several months, after owner Cal McNair brought up the idea in an “Ask Me Anything” forum before the season started.
The Texans are saying, you spoke and we listened.
New uniforms? That’s what the Texans heard?
Over the last few days, I’ve heard sports talk hosts and callers clamor for a return to the good old days of the Houston Oilers and Luv Ya Blue – let’s bring back the Oilers’ colors of Columbia Blue, scarlet red and white.
One host agreed, that's a terrific idea. After all, he said, he recently visited an Academy store and it had more Oilers jerseys and gear for sale than Texans stuff.
First, that’s not true, not even close. Academy has a few Oilers items and walls and racks of Texans merchandise.
The host also supported bringing back Oilers colors because those were popular uniforms and the most established and best supported pro teams still wear classic uniforms from years gone by.
Again, not true. This year, the New York Giants and Chicago Bears (established enough for you?) introduced new helmets. The Philadelphia Eagles will have new alternate jerseys next season. NBA and MLB teams have more wardrobe changes than Cher on her 20th annual retirement tour.
Some callers argued, since the Tennessee Titans dropped their Oilers name a few years after the Oilers moved there in 1997, why don’t the Texans make the transition complete and change their name to Oilers?
Is that what Houston fans really want? First, not only do the owners of the Titans retain the rights to the Oilers name and legacy, NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue officially retired the name Oilers. He did that to prevent future NFL teams in Houston from calling themselves the Oilers.
If the Texans tried to recapture the energy and “luv” affair between Houston and the Oilers, wouldn’t that be like breaking up with your new girlfriend and drunk calling your old girlfriend at 3 a.m. begging for another chance?
Sure the Luv Ya Blue Oilers of the ‘70s won a bunch of games and had some characters like Bum Phillips, Dan Pastorini and Elvin Bethea, plus a catchy song that you could name in one note.
Noteworthy, when the Oilers closed shop in Houston after the 1996 season, the Astrodome wasn’t exactly covered with Super Bowl or even AFC Championship banners. In fact, none. The closest the Oilers came to the Super Bowl was two appearances in the AFC title game in 1978 and 1979, both times losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Between 1970 when the Oilers joined the NFL to 1996 when they left Houston, the Oilers compiled a 181-199 record. Luvable, yes, for a period.
The Oilers, especially owner Bud Adams, weren’t such local heroes starting in the 1980s. Adams consistently threatened to move the Oilers if Houston wouldn’t build him a new stadium at taxpayer expense. After flirting with Jacksonville, Adams finally got a sweetheart deal with Tennessee. Houston fans felt jilted. Did you see the crowd at the Texans’ game Sunday at NRG Stadium? It was Fan Appreciation Day and maybe 20,000 fans showed up. And that’s a charitable estimate…
That’s what the Astrodome looked like during the Oilers’ last season in Houston. Don’t let the door hit you in the butt, Bud.
Here’s a better idea than going back into the past for the Texans. How about moving forward with a new quarterback, new coach, new management, new … everything? The uniform ain’t the problem. Besides, there’s hundreds of thousands of Houstonians who weren’t even here when Luv Ya Blue owned the city.
Houston’s population in 1980 was 1.6 million. Now it’s 2.3 million. Luv Ya … sorry, who?
You may notice that the Jacksonville Jaguars are in first place in the AFC South. The Jags finished dead last in 2020 and 2021. They got themselves high-up draft picks, took a franchise quarterback and hired a coach with a Super Bowl resume. That’s your ticket, Texans. You know what to do.