Here's what's really behind Oilers-Titans uniform controversy

Have the Titans gone too far? Photo by George Rose/Getty Images.

For longtime Houston Oilers fans living here, a couple of dates are seared into our collective memories.

Perhaps the most triggering would be 30 years ago – January 3, 1993. On that fateful, icy day, our clearly Super Bowl-bound Oilers fumbled a comfortable playoff game lead against the Buffalo Bills, instead fell 41–38 in overtime, set the then-record for largest comeback in NFL history, and may have set the wheels in motion for the team to leave the Bayou City.

That brings us to another PTSD date for true Oilers fans: November 14, 1998, when the Oilers officially changed their name to the Tennessee Titans, after then owner Bud Adams announced after the end of the 1995 season that the team was moving to Nashville. That divorce paved the way for what are how the Houston Texans.

Worst of all for Oilers fans, Adams — who bailed on Houston when he couldn't get city funding for a new stadium — and the Titans would always retain all the Oilers team records, iconography, and history.

A slap in the face (mask)

Let's visit a new egregious date for Oilers fans: July 23, 2023. That's when the Tennessee Titans unveiled the throwback Houston Oilers uniforms they'll be wearing during the season. As CultureMap news partner ABC13 rightfully points out, the unveiling came with some fighting words from the Titans:

“Columbia Blue and red have returned to their rightful home.”

Wha? Funny, none of us who were here remember legendary Oilers coach O. A. “Bum” Phillips strolling the sidelines in his Texas rancher getup — in Tennessee. We didn't cheer on Hall of Fame running back/human tank Earl Campbell nearly breaking opposing linebackers in half from a stadium in Nashville. We didn't party on Broadway when quarterback Warren Moon and our Run & Shoot Oilers teams won big and became toasts of the NFL's IYKYK crowd for their fearsome offense and defense.

In short, how the hell is Tennessee the rightful home for Columbia Blue and red?

The Titans clearly are jawing at Oilers fans in their choice of Luv Ya Blue uni model. Derrick Henry, the closest thing in the current NFL to beloved Oilers mauler Earl Campbell, poses in the photo with a caption, “Oil Derrick.” (Oh, they're so clever.)

A Columbia Blue-and-red dividing line

Many fans celebrated and threw shade at Houston in the comments — "Incoming triggered Houston fans" typed one, while others had a sense of empathy: “This low-key disrespectful.”

Cheers from Titans fans make sense, but one comment from former Houston Chronicle pro football writer John McClain — nicknamed “The General” here for his Oilers coverage during the glory days — seems noticeably tone-deaf or just pure clickbait.

Even McClain's former Chronicle sports writer John P. Lopez calls out his former colleague:

Not surprisingly, Justin James Watt — who's not from Houston but clearly bleeds H-Town — gets the pain and frustration felt by Houston Oilers fans. His tweet in support means far more than anyone else's, to many.

Tennessee will don these travesties uniforms for two home games, the team announced. No doubt, they'll be clad in Columbia Blue and red when the Texans face the Titans in Nashville for Week 15 on December 17. In a true twist of Luv Ya Blue fate, former Texans standout wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who lobbied for the Luv Ya Blue jerseys in Houston, is now on the Titans roster.

Have at it, Nashville

Here's the thing: Houston is the energy capital of the world. This is the home of Johnson Space Center and Mission Control, the world's greatest Medical Center, and the most diverse, dynamic, and friendliest populace in America. And let's not even get into Texas barbecue vs. Tennessee's.

According to current data, Houston's annual GDP is more than $537 billion. For a little comparison, the entire state of Tennessee produces around $367 billion. Houston is considered by many across the globe as a real world-class city and the greatest big-city opportunity market in America.

The Texans are reloading in a big way — on the field and off — with a just-signed franchise QB, a defensive monster, and a potential Coach of the Year — who hasn't even started yet. This is, after all, the home of Hakeem Olajuwon, Nolan Ryan, the two-time world champion Houston Rockets and Houston Astros, and the greatest pro football anthem ever. (Always worth a listen.)

Nashville is the home of ... Taylor Swift. But hey, that's something.

Houston has endured disrespects and slights forever and never missed a beat. While the country and world watched, we bravely weathered devastating hurricanes, pulled ourselves back up, and even opened our doors to others in need.

So, y'all can borrow our jerseys, Nashville. We're good.

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After another poor performance from former Houston Texans QB Deshaun Watson, the Cleveland Browns' season is starting to look like an uphill climb. Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb is out for the year, and Cleveland fans aren't too pleased with the way Watson is playing, especially considering the massive contract extension he signed with the team. And we didn't even get to the off the field drama that comes with Watson.

However, Houston fans are invested in the Browns' season outcome as well, with the Texans holding the Browns' first round pick in 2024, and having sent their own first rounder to the Cardinals in the Will Anderson trade.

So each loss for the Browns, means a better draft pick for the Texans!

For Houston, it looks like they have their QB of the future in CJ Stroud. And he'll be on a less expensive rookie contract for the next several years, giving the Texans more cap space to upgrade the roster.

With all of this in mind, is it fair to question if the Texans dodged a bullet when Watson demanded a trade?

DeMeco Ryans vs. Lovie Smith

Plus, we're only two games into the season, but Lovie Smith's defense was much better (with a similar roster) than what DeMeco Ryans' defense has shown thus far, and DeMeco has the benefit of Will Anderson rushing the QB.

Are the struggles on defense more about the roster GM Nick Caserio has put together, or does this slow start fall on DeMeco?

Don't miss the video above as we break it all down!

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