Joe Browne, senior adviser to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the league's longest-serving headquarters employee, talked about how a mischievous Adams would tweak Pete Rozelle, one of Goodell's predecessors, about signing Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon in 1960. Cannon wound up with Adams' upstart AFL Houston Oilers when Rozelle was a young general manager who wanted the touted LSU running back for his NFL establishment Los Angeles Rams.
Munchak, who began his career with the Houston Oilers when he was drafted in 1982, drew laughter when he told how players would look forward to Adams' appearances at the end of training camp and how flashy the club owner would be dressed.
The Oklahoma-born Kenneth Stanley Adams Jr. followed his father, a chief executive of Phillips Petroleum, into the oil business, but also had interests in farming, ranching, real estate and auto dealerships that made him among Houston's wealthiest residents.
But Adams was best known for bringing professional football to Houston when he and fellow oilman Lamar Hunt of Dallas announced the founding of the American Football League from his Houston office in August 1959. His Houston Oilers won the first two AFL titles in 1960 and 1961, and his battles for players such as Cannon with the old-guard National Football League helped lead to the two leagues merging.
Two decades later, Adams antagonized some Houston football fans by firing popular coach Bum Phillips, who twice fell one game short of the Super Bowl in the team's "Luv Ya Blue" era. The alienation escalated when he flirted with moving the team to Jacksonville. He became further reviled when his inability to get a favorable new stadium deal in his adopted hometown prompted him to move the team in 1997 to Tennessee, where they became the Titans.
The memories of Adams and Phillips remain entwined in Houston. Phillips died Oct. 18, days before Adams, and also at age 90.
Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press