MIKE BURKE

Allegany Communications Sports­­

The NFL Tennessee Titans have unveiled their throwback uniform for the coming season and they’re throwing all the way back to their time in Houston when they were the Houston Oilers. You remember, the baby blue jersey that Earl Campbell, Dan Pastorini and Warren Moon wore back in the day …

Not only is this uniform the same uniform the Houston Oilers wore for most of their time in Houston, first as a member of the American Football League, but the Tennessee Titans, who moved away from Houston 27 years ago, are even selling the jerseys and the T-shirts as Oilers swag, announcing at the top of the team’s Twitter (sorry, X) page, “THE OILERS ARE BACK” complete with the oil well logo.

My question is if they are so excited that the Oilers are back, why did they ever stop being the Oilers in the first place? You say there’s no oil in Tennessee? I believe Jed Clampett would tell you otherwise.

Of course, we know the answer to all of this is the NFL will sell its own at the drop of a hat (which they would gladly sell, as well), with this franchise being one of the many operating examples of it. The oil wells had been deemed dry in Houston, likely in the form of no taxpayer-funded stadium for the team; so they loaded up their truck and they moved to Tennessee. Oil, that is, black gold, Texas tea.

See? Even the song references Texas …

Hey, it’s the NFL; it’s professional sports and the Tennessee Titans must still own the team name Oilers, all of its colors and all of its history, just as Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers own the Washington Senators name and brand, which is why you never see the Nationals wear throwback Senators uniforms.

It’s why you won’t see the NBA New Orleans Pelicans wear throwbacks of the New Orleans Jazz, which was the perfect nickname, not unlike the Baltimore Colts.

Baltimore, of course, lost the Colts name, colors and history when Irsay loaded up his truck and moved to Indianapolis in the middle of the night, which, frankly, was the biggest loss old Colts fans would incur, as just getting rid of Irsay was really almost worth it, even if it did take 18 years to get another team.

The Baltimore Colts uniform, though, was the best look in football and Colts was a natural name for the team because Maryland has long been known for horse farms and for horse racing. Still, Indianapolis got it all in the move, and realizing the sting of losing that identity, former Ravens owner Art Modell left the team name Browns as well as the team colors and history in Cleveland when he moved that team to Baltimore. That way, the new team that the NFL promised and then delivered in three years to Cleveland could use them.

No such courtesies were extended to Baltimore, of course, since the NFL could not get rid of Baltimore fast enough so that Jack Kent Cooke could build his proposed new stadium in Laurel, halfway between Washington and Baltimore, for his Washington Redskins … As though any NFL team representing Washington would increase its fanbase in Baltimore, although the Capitals are pretty popular there.

Still, it just goes to show you how cutthroat and greedy the NFL and its owners are in that the Tennessee Titans are marketing and selling the jersey of a Houston Oilers team that never played its games in the state of Tennessee and, oh yes, are going to wear the jerseys and the uniforms in actual NFL games this year as the Tennessee Titans.

How typically NFL crass it would be if the Titans decided to wear the Houston Oilers uniforms in their Dec. 17 game against the Houston Texans. Wouldn’t that bring back fond memories for the fans in Houston? And just eight days before Christmas! Such nice people.

Personally, I don’t understand why any football fans in Tennessee would want to wear a Houston Oilers jersey. You don’t see me walking around wearing a St. Louis Browns jersey, do you? (And what is it with Baltimore and teams named Browns?)

No, you don’t, because I’ve never bought into the whole dynamic of paying over a hundred bucks to buy a shirt with another man’s name on it. But I see enough of them out there, so whatever blows your skirt up, right?

P.T. Barnum knew. He just knew.

Mike Burke writes about sports and other stuff for Allegany Communications. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984, serving as sports editor for over 30 years. Contact him at [email protected] and [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT