For most of the Tennessee Titans, wearing the throwback uniforms of the Houston Oilers will be a nice little twist to open the preseason.
As Keith Bulluck smiled and said, “I’m looking forward to wearing the Oilers uniform because I know I’ll look good in it.”
But for one Titans player, putting on the Columbia blue with the oil derrick on the helmet will be extremely special.
Quarterback Vince Young grew up in Houston, rooting for the Oilers, and is relishing the opportunity to put on the digs of the team he followed as a youngster Sunday when the Titans play the Buffalo Bills in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.
“That’s like a dream come true. I can’t wait to dress it up with the little style I’m going to have with it. I have a lot of memories, and just to put that No. 10 on, because you’ve never had a No. 10 Oilers [jersey],” Young said. “I’m going to have my own little style with it, but just to have [the helmet] on my head will bring back a lot of memories.”
Young remembered growing up an avid fan of the team in Houston, recalling the run and shoot years of Warren Moon and other seasons of success combined with heartbreak. The ultimate heartbreak came after the 1996 season when the Oilers moved to Tennessee, leaving Houston without a team until the Texans were born in 2002.
“I was very angry [when they moved], because I was always an Oilers fan, always watching them, watching Warren Moon, Chris Chandler, Haywood Jeffires, Ray Childress – I was a big fan of all those guys,” Young said. “And when they left it was a heartbreaker for the city. A lot of people watched the Rockets and the Astros, but when football season hit, we were looking forward to the Oilers. We would get close every year to the Super Bowl, but never make it.”
Young recalled the Oilers playoff collapse against Buffalo in the 1992 playoffs, and a loss to John Elway and Denver in closing seconds the year before.
Nonetheless, Young said people he talks to back in Houston are intrigued by the Oilers uniforms being retrieved from the mothballs this season. The Titans will wear the home blue uniforms Sunday, and will wear the Oilers' gear three other times in the regular season.
“Just hearing people back in Houston when I was at home, saying, ‘Man, y’all are going to wear the Oilers [uniforms]. You’ll be looking good. I’m looking forward to it and I’m excited about it,” Young said.
Young and his teammates got a brief taste of it with Tuesday morning’s practice, donning the Oilers helmets as Coach Jeff Fisher said, “to break them in.”
After Sunday night’s game, Young said he will probably keep his Oilers jersey and frame it to put on the wall in his house. And he’s going to collect a few more from some teammates as keepsakes as well.
“I’m taking a lot of people’s jerseys, because they owe me a jersey. I’ve given a lot of people my jerseys in the past few years, and I’ve been waiting,” Young said. “So this is a good time to be waiting, and I’ll get me a couple of more Oilers jerseys from guys like Keith Bulluck and others that I respect on the team. When they take off that jersey, they can pass it to me.”