Bud Adams fails to land one of three contributor slots for Pro Football Hall of Fame

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Bud Adams, who created the Houston Oilers, helped forge the AFL-NFL merger and turned his team into the Tennessee Titans, was not selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame as one of three contributors in the Centennial Class.bud cover 2 crop copy

The three new Hall of Famers in the contributor category are:

  • Steve Sabol, Administrator/President – 1964-2012 NFL Films
  • Paul Tagliabue, Commissioner – 1989-2006 National Football League
  • George Young, Contributor/General Manager – 1968-1974 Baltimore Colts, 1975-78 Miami Dolphins, 1979-1997 New York Giants, 1998-2001 National Football League

Tagliabue is the controversial selection, as he's been voted down four times previously by the regular selection committee in 2007, 2008, 2009 and 2017. My time on the selection committee began in 2015 and I did vote for Tagliabue in 2017. But from the start the blue-ribbon panel set up for the extra 15, skeptics viewed the blue-ribbon panel choosing the Centennial Class as an end-around to benefit the former commissioner who critics say was late to act on the league's concussion issues.

Sabol is the second member of his family to make the Hall. Ed Sabol, the founder, president and chairman of NFL Films was inducted in 2011.

With three other contributors knocked off the list, it’s not all bad news for the father of the franchise, who died on Oct. 21, 2013, and who’s daughter Amy Adams Strunk is now the Titans controlling owner.

Adams is now bumped up on the list of worthy candidates in the category. [Unlocked]

The other contributors who missed out:

  • Ralph Hay, Owner – 1918-1922 Canton Bulldogs
  • Frank “Bucko” Kilroy, Scout/General Manager/Executive – 1960-61 Philadelphia Eagles, 1962-64 Washington Redskins, 1965-1970 Dallas Cowboys, 1971-2006 New England Patriots
  • Art McNally, Official/Administrator – 1959-2015 National Football League
  • Art Modell, Owner – 1961-1995 Cleveland Browns, 1996-2011 Baltimore Ravens
  • Clint Murchison, Founder/Owner – 1960-1983 Dallas Cowboys
  • Seymour Siwoff, Owner/President – 1952-2019 Elias Sports Bureau

From 2013-2018, the Hall looked to boost senior and contributor additions. Two senior nominees and one contributor would be eligible for selection one year, and two contributors and one senior the next.

Whether that rotation resumes in 2021 will be determined in February.

Whatever system is put in place, there will still be a path for contributors. I’ve heard there was increasing enthusiasm for Adams over the last six months, but it clearly was not enough.AFLChampionshipLogo

I know many will immediately bemoan the fact that Adams was not already in and that he missed now. But there is a long list of worthy candidates who’ve had to wait too long – players, coaches and contributors – and it’s an inevitable result of a selection system that limits the numbers so heavily.

The Centennial Class of 15 was created, in part, to help deal with some of that backlog by adding two coaches, three contributors and 10 seniors. A regular modern era class of five players will also be elected in the traditional timeslot on the Saturday before the Super Bowl. 

Denied in their attempts to buy NFL franchises, Adams helped Hall of Famer Lamar Hunt create the AFL in 1959 and guided the upstart, maverick league to prominence with a wide-open passing style and some free-spending.

It ultimately prompted a union with the NFL in 1966 and the two leagues fully combined in 1970.

Adams signed Heisman winning running back Billy Cannon away from the NFL Rams, facilitated Joe Namath landing with the Jets, made Warren Moon the highest-paid player in the NFL to get him from the CFL, had the first team that played its home games in a dome, served on the influential finance committee and ran a franchise that made 21 playoff appearances between 1960-2012, the eighth-most among NFL teams during that period.

The rest of the Centennial Class:


Bill Cowher – 1992-2006 Pittsburgh Steelers

Jimmy Johnson – 1989-1993 Dallas Cowboys, 1996-99 Miami Dolphins


• Harold Carmichael, WR – 1971-1983 Philadelphia Eagles, 1984 Dallas Cowboys

• Jim Covert, T – 1983-1990 Chicago BearsHallOldLogo

• *Bobby Dillon, S – 1952-59 Green Bay Packers

• Cliff Harris, S – 1970-79 Dallas Cowboys

• *Winston Hill, T – 1963-1976 New York Jets, 1977 Los Angeles Rams

• *Alex Karras, DT – 1958-1962, 1964-1970 Detroit Lions

• Donnie Shell, S – 1974-1987 Pittsburgh Steelers

• *Duke Slater, T – 1922 Milwaukee Badgers, 1922-25 Rock Island Independents,
1926-1931 Chicago Cardinals

•*Mac Speedie, E – 1946-1952 Cleveland Browns [AAFC/NFL]

• *Ed Sprinkle, DE/LB/E – 1944-1955 Chicago Bears

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