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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Titans owner Bud Adams, who helped found the American Football League and whose battles for players helped lead to the merger with the NFL, has died. He was 90.

The team announced Monday that Adams had died, saying he “passed away peacefully from natural causes.”

Adams’ death leaves Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson as the only living member of the group of men, the “Foolish Club”, who formed the eight teams that made up the American Football League in 1960.

“I am saddened to hear the news of the passing of Bud Adams,” Wilson said in a statement. “As original AFL team owners, we all shared a common bond and a deep sense of pride in where we started in 1960 to where the NFL is today and how much our fans enjoy the game of professional football.

“Bud certainly played an important role in the growth and development of our game, and today I am remembering with great fondness all the laughs we shared with the special memories over the years. Through it all, our teams played some of the most memorable games in AFL and NFL history.”

The son of a prominent oil executive, Adams built his own energy fortune and founded the Houston Oilers. He moved the team to Tennessee in 1997 when he couldn’t get a new stadium in Houston. The franchise, renamed the Titans, in the 1999 season reached the Super Bowl that Adams had spent more than three decades pursuing. They lost to the Rams.

Adams’ 409 wins were the most of any current NFL owner. He won his 400th career game in the 2011 season finale when his Titans defeated the team that replaced his Oilers in Houston, the Texans. His franchise made 21 playoff appearances in 53 seasons, eighth among NFL teams since 1960.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell called Adams a pioneer and an innovator.

“As a founding owner of the American Football League that began play in 1960, Bud saw the potential of pro football and brought the game to new cities and new heights of popularity, first in Houston and then in Nashville,” Goodell said in a statement.

Kenneth Stanley Adams Jr. was born in Bartlesville, Okla., to the future chief executive of Phillips Petroleum Co., K.S. “Boots” Adams.

Adams joined Dallas oilman Lamar Hunt on Aug. 3, 1959, when they announced the AFL would begin competing with the NFL at a news conference in Adams’ office. Adams founded one of the new league’s charter franchises.

The NFL retaliated by placing the Cowboys in Dallas and tried to get into Houston, but Adams held the lease to the one available stadium.

“I wanted to be the only pro team,” Adams said in a 2002 interview.

He won a major battle with the NFL in June 1960, shortly before the AFL’s debut, when a judge ruled Louisiana State Heisman Trophy winner Billy Cannon — who signed with the Oilers underneath the goalposts after the Sugar Bowl that year — was their property. Cannon later had signed with the NFL’s Los Angeles Rams.

“It was a big step for us,” Adams said.

The Oilers won the first two AFL titles and reached the championship game four times during the 1960s. In 1968, the Oilers became the first indoor football team when they moved into the 3-year-old Astrodome.

The Oilers had their longest run of success in the late 1980s and early 1990s after signing Warren Moon in 1984. They became best known for blowing a record 32-point lead in a playoff game at Buffalo on Jan. 3, 1993 — Adams’ 70th birthday.

Meanwhile, Adams quietly became one of the nation’s wealthiest oilmen as his ADA Oil Co. evolved into the publicly traded Adams Resources & Energy Inc., a Fortune 500 company based in Houston. His business interests included farming and ranching in Texas and California, cattle feeding, real estate and automobile sales.

He also was a major collector of western art and Indian artifacts and maintained a private gallery at his corporate headquarters.