Old Navy Gives the Houston Texans Its First Championship

Old Navy confused the Houston Texans with the American Football League-era Houston Oilers, proclaiming the team to be the "1961 AFC Champions."
Tue September 4, 2012 8:49 pm
Old Navy

Congratulations to the Houston Texans!

According to a t-shirt that’s been on sale at Old Navy, the eleven-year-old National Football League franchise was the “1961 AFC Champions.”

It’s a double-edged mistake, as it was the Houston Oilers who were champions that year of the American Football  League. The American Football Conference didn’t come into existence until the AFL merged with the National Football League in 1970, four years after the first Super Bowl.

Led by the great George Blanda at quarterback, the Houston Oilers won the first two titles in Lamar Hunt and Bud Adams’ AFL, in 1960 and 1961.

But, as every fan in Houston knows (and some continue to lament), those achievements still belong to Adams, who moved the Oilers to Tennessee in 1997, and changed the franchise name to “Titans” two years later. The Texans began play as an NFL expansion team in 2002. 

Culture Map ’s Clifford Pugh first had the story, tipped off by a reader named Todd Nelkin who  called it  “the most unique Texans shirt maybe you will see … Here you get the best of both worlds.”

ESPN.com sports business reporter Darren Rovell reached out to Old Navy :

After word circulated on the Internet about the mistake, the company will be pulling the items from its website and from stores, a company spokesperson told ESPN.com.

“The NFL clothing sold in our Old Navy stores is created by a third party sports licensing company,” said Edie Kissko, a spokesperson for Gap Inc., which owns the Old Navy brand, in a statement. “It is our intention to always provide the best merchandise to our customers and NFL fans. We apologize for this error and are removing the T-shirts.”

One might almost think Old Navy was intentionally making an ironic mash-up t-shirt.

But, as Pugh noted, the retailer was also selling a shirt that had the Cleveland Browns as 1964 NFC Champions (they won the NFL that year), and David Barron of the Houston Chronicle  found other errors.

To add to the confusion, the Hunt-owned  Dallas Texans prevented the Oilers from winning its third straight AFL title in 1962. That team is now the Kansas City Chiefs. 

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