Houses of the Holy, 1962: Texans at Houston

Caricatures of first-generation AFL owners Bud Adams and Lamar Hunt prior to the 1962 AFL title game in Houston.
Caricatures of first-generation AFL owners Bud Adams and Lamar Hunt prior to the 1962 AFL title game in Houston.

Farewell to Football? An American Fan’s Examination of Conscience. Click here to order a copy in paperback or Kindle format.

This Sunday (9/13/15), the Houston Texans will host the Kansas City Chiefs in the first game of the NFL season for each team. If there’s something oddly familiar, if also slightly out-of-kilter, about the match-up, it may result from some of the changes in identity that have occurred throughout pro football history. In 1962, the Texans–then the Dallas Texans–played the Houston team–then the Oilers–in the AFL title game, an overtime thriller played in Jeppesen Stadium on the University of Houston campus. Since then, the Dallas Texans moved to Kansas City and became the Chiefs, while the Oilers moved to Tennessee and became the Titans. The Houston Texans were invented out of NFL expansion whole cloth and began play in 2002, while Jeppesen Stadium was later rechristened Robertson Stadium, and then torn down after the 2012 season to make way for TDECU Stadium, where the University of Houston Cougars now play their home games.

Referee Red Bourne, not visible behind Abner Haynes, prepares to toss the coin at the beginning of sudden-death overtime in the game between the Dallas Texans and Houston Oilers in 1962.
Referee Red Bourne, not visible behind Abner Haynes, prepares to toss the coin at the beginning of sudden-death overtime in the game between the Dallas Texans and Houston Oilers in 1962.

The coin-toss became famous in its own right, broadcast nationwide on live TV (that’s the late Jack Buck in the picture above, father of current Fox NFL broadcaster Joe Buck). Haynes, tired from the game after scoring a rushing and a receiving touchdown, no doubt nervous, ended up mistakenly claiming that the Texans would “kick to the clock.” All that referee Bourne could do, though, was to honor the call that the Dallas team would kick. It didn’t end up mattering, though, as the Texans won the game 20-17 on a field goal in the second overtime period.

The Texans won the game and the AFL title but lost the city of Dallas, moving to Kansas City in the off-season when it became clear that the NFL Cowboys had the upper hand and benefit of the resources of the senior league in maintaining the pro football franchise in the city. The Chiefs ended up playing in two of the first four Super Bowls, while the Cowboys played in five of the ten Super Bowls of the 1970’s, and then won three more in the 1990s, while no Houston team has ever played in the Super Bowl.

So, when they toss the coin at midfield in Reliant Stadium–er, NRG Stadium to start the Texans-Chiefs game, give a moment’s pause to recall that once Houston played the Texans for the league championship.

Read about Houston football history!

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47767911_High Resolution Front Cover_6181606 (2)Farewell to Football? An American Fan’s Examination of Conscience. Click here to order a copy in paperback or Kindle format.

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