Adams was 90, and "passed away peacefully from natural causes at his home this morning in Houston," a release from the Titans confirmed.
The oil magnate had tried to purchase an NFL team in the late 1950s -- the Chicago Cardinals -- but was denied the opportunity. He joined forces with future Dallas Texans and Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt and started the American Football League to compete with the long-established NFL.
Their decision to start the league led Adams and Hunt to be called "The Foolish Club" in trying to compete with the NFL. The two had the last laugh, though, when the leagues were forced to merge.
Adams presided over 409 wins with his organization; he still holds the record over all current NFL owners. Many of those wins came from his Houston Oilers, who won the first two AFL titles in 1960 and 1961. The team was the first to play indoors, holding games in the Houston Astrodome until 1997.
He moved the Oilers to Tennessee after clashing with the East Texas city while campaigning for an Astrodome expansion, scouting cities including Jacksonville, Fla. He ended up making a deal with then-Nashville Mayor Phil Bredsen that put a city-supported stadium plan in place to move the team to Nashville, where it became the Titans.
Adams is currently one of the nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2014.
"Besides the playoffs, one thing I would like to accomplish is to be considered in the Pro Football Hall of Fame," he said. "... I don't like tooting my own horn."
"But at my age, and now being the senior NFL owner, there is no one from back in those days than can really speak up for me now. I really feel this year could be a year I get serious consideration after 53 years."
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