I guess it's not a shock that Bud Adams' death got much different play in Houston and Nashville. Here, he was the man who brought America's new national pastime to town. In Texas, he's the man who found a better deal and ripped up four decades of Oilers tradition because they wouldn't build him a new stadium.
The Houston Chronicle gave Adams' death an off-lead position down the side of A1, while The Tennessean broke out the hero treatment, taking the entire top of the front page.
The two obituaries could not have been more different in tone, either.
From Jim Wyatt in The Tennessean:
On the eve of the 1995 NFL draft, then-Oilers coach Jeff Fisher walked down the hallway to the Houston office of owner Bud Adams to lay out his vision on what would happen the next day.
The prize was quarterback Steve McNair, but picking third, the Oilers would need things to play out favorably in front of them. Fisher told Adams what he thought might transpire. Adams listened intently, before switching topics.
“He picked up an Indian doll, because he was a collector of rare Indian artifacts,” Fisher recalled on Monday. “And he talked about the doll and how much he paid for it and how excited he was about being able to acquire the doll.
“And then he said, ‘OK, good luck tomorrow. Let’s get our guy.’ ”
Fisher, who spent 17 seasons as head coach of the Oilers/Titans under Adams, said the ’95 draft story illustrates how Adams trusted the decisions of those who worked for him. Yet along the way, Adams also made it clear during his 54 years as owner he expected results. Adams’ 409 wins were the most of any current NFL owner, though he never got the Super Bowl trophy he craved.
From David Barron in the Chronicle:
K.S. “Bud” Adams, a second- generation oil tycoon with big dreams and a big personality, decided in the late 1950s that Houston should have a professional football team and put up the money to make it happen.
Thirty-seven years later, after a clash with city officials over plans for a new stadium, Adams moved his team to Tennessee. Within two years, however, his vote helped NFL owners clear the way for a new team, the Texans, to come to Houston.
For all those reasons and more, Adams, who was found dead Monday at his River Oaks home, will be remembered as one of Houston’s most divisive and controversial citizens but also one of the most significant figures in a city that in large part because of his efforts has a half-century’s history as a major league sports town.
Less than 24 hours after the announcement, though, here's an indication of how little impact the story had in Nashville: It's practically gone from the daily's website. Wyatt's big piece — that led the print edition — is just a line of text, second even to news of Darius Reynaud being cut. The actual obit is almost impossible to find (although, in fairness, that could have more to do with the Tennessean's site setup than an actual decision to, er, bury it). Why move on so fast from what was seemingly such a huge story? None of Adams' coverage is in the top 10 stories on the site.
I'm not always a fan of using Internet metrics to determine the play of a story in print — they can be wildly different audiences. But in this case I think the web traffic is an indication that the all-above-the-fold treatment for Adams was overcooked. We've never cared that much about the man; we just care about the team.
Update: It's back on the site's front page, but only because of a business section follow on Adams' commercial real estate holdings.