Legendary Houston Oilers Head Coach Bum Phillips passed away Friday night at the age of 90. Bum’s son, Texans Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips, Tweeted “Bum is gone to Heaven-loved and will be missed by all -great Dad,Coach, and Christian”. Phillips coached the Oilers from 1975-1980, using his fun loving eccentric style to propel the Oilers to back to back AFC Championship games in 1978 and 1979.
The Texas native, from Orange, Oail Andrew “Bum” Phillips started his coaching career coaching high schools and some smaller colleges before moving to the University of Houston in 1965 as defensive coordinator. He made the leap to the NFL with the San Diego Chargers. Coaching there for three years (’67-’70) before a three year hiatus from coaching. He returned to football as an assistant for the Oklahoma State Cowboys in 1973.
In 1974 Phillips was back in the NFL with his home state Oilers as the defensive coordinator. In 1975 Phillips was promoted to head coach.
He was unlike any other head coach in the NFL. Wearing a big cowboy hat (unless in a domed stadium) and fancy boots Phillips was Houston. He was the embodiment not only of a team, but of the city.
Phillips thought that a team should play like a family and the best way to bring a family together was with fun. He once stopped practice and brought out an ice cream truck for the players to have a cool treat.
Often pacing the sidelines with a big wad of tobacco in his lip Phillips talked like a Texan acted like a Texan and was beloved by players and fans alike.
He was known for his colorful quotes, once saying after a loss, “The harder we played the behinder we got.”
He also wasn’t afraid to call out the NFL neighbors to the north, “Dallas Cowboys may be America’s team, but the Houston Oilers are Texas’ team.”
Of his star running back Ear Campbell Bum said, “I don’t know if he’s in a class by himself, but whatever class he’s in, it don’t take long to call the roll.”
On December 28th 1980 Owner of the Oilers (now the Titans) Bud Adams fired Phillips as head coach of his team after the Oilers failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs.
Bum went on to coach the New Orleans saints from 1981-1985 before retiring from coaching for good.
Bum, a proud Christian man, went on to start the Bum Phillips Charities to help support Christian Ministries.
Bum’s son, Wade Phillips followed in his father’s footsteps and was the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys for 2+ seasons. Wade is now the defensive coordinator in Houston, where his dad is still a legend.
Bum finished his NFL Career with a record of 86-80 as a head coach.
Bum, you are in a class all your own. And there is now only one person calling your name. Rest in peace.