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Strange but true: Oilers give Bill Peterson ‘almost lifetime’ contract

It was an “almost lifetime” contract. But there’s one problem: Rice threatens to sue because Bill Peterson is breaking their contract.

HOUSTON — It’s a contract which sounded too good to be true, but it was a heck of a deal for one guy.

Let’s go back to December 1971. The Oilers need a new head coach — again — and find their man at Rice University. His name: Bill Peterson, who’s credited with bringing the pro passing game to college football. He claims the Oilers are offering him an “almost lifetime” contract.

That’s right: an “almost lifetime” contract. But there’s one problem: Rice threatens to sue because Bill is breaking their contract.

In the end, Rice lets Peterson go, and he begins his next chapter with the Oilers.

What’s an “almost-lifetime” contract? Reportedly, it’s somewhere between 10 and 15 years and will pay Bill Peterson more than $1 million.

“He’ll be with us a long time,” said owner Bud Adams upon hiring Peterson, according to The Associated Press on Dec. 31, 1971. “He’ll be with us until he retires.”

"The Last Oiler Coach" lasts less than 22 months. He’s fired after only one win and 18 losses.

Poor Bill Peterson never coaches again. But he’s also a “rich” Bill. He continues to be paid by the Oilers, according to “NFL Head Coaches: A Biographical Dictionary, 1920-2011” by John Maxymuk.

An “almost lifetime” contract for Bill Peterson? It’s definitely a strange but true Houston sports story.