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Bum Phillips dead at age 90 (1 Viewer)

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Footballguy
John McClain
@McClain_on_NFL


Former Oilers coach Bum Phillips died tonight at his home in Goliad. He was 90.


RIP Coach
 
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So sad. A great man. A Houston legend. I'm too young to have seen him coach. But my father, an Oilers fan, greatly admired and respected Bum. I just went to call my Dad to tell him the news, and when I went to push "call" he was calling me to tell me Bum passed. He lived what I would think is a long, good life. But I can't help but feel down now. He'll be missed by many.

 
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Oail Andrew “Bum” Phillips Jr., who spent half his adult life as a football coach and every waking moment as the personification of all things Texan, died Friday at his ranch in Goliad.Phillips was three weeks past his 90th birthday and more than three decades removed from his heyday as head coach of the Oilers from 1975 through 1980. But he remains the personification of a time, a place and a team that remains deep in the hearts of everyone who saw them play.

The end came on a cool autumn football weekend as Houston’s current pro team, the Texans, prepares to play Sunday with his son, Wade, serving as defensive coordinator. Family members said Wade Phillips visited with his father before rejoining the team for its trip to Kansas City.

“Bum is gone to Heaven-loved and will be missed by all -great Dad,Coach, and Christian,” Wade Phillips, whose Twitter handle is @sonofbum, tweeted shortly after 10 p.m.

Bum Phillips was a product of a family that traced its roots to Texas’ frontier past, and he did his job dressed in boots, jeans and a white Stetson – except at the Astrodome, since his mama told him it was impolite to wear a hat indoors.

He was, said one admirer, the “Will Rogers of the NFL,” justly famous for such sayings as, “There’s two kinds of coaches: them that’s been fired, and them that’s gonna be fired.”

But it was his relationship with his players – and theirs to him – and his ability to relate to fans that cemented his place among the legends of Texas football coaches with the likes of Darrell Royal, Tom Landry and Gordon Wood.

“Bum Phillips’ Oilers succeeded in a way that will never be measured by percentages and trophies,” wrote former Chronicle columnist Ed Fowler in a book about the team. “They symbolized a city rather than merely representing it.”

They called it “Luv Ya Blue,” and from 1978 through 1980, it was the biggest thing in Houston sports. In truth, the city has not seen anything to top it.

Twice Phillips’ Oilers battled the Pittsburgh Steelers for a berth in the Super Bowl, and both times they came up short. After each loss, they were welcomed home by more than 40,000 cheering fans at the Astrodome, inspiring one of the most famous quotations in the history of Texas sports.

“One year ago we knocked on the door. This year we beat on the door,” Phillips said after the 1980 title-game loss. “Next year we’re gonna kick the sum##### in.”

But they never did. After the Oilers lost a first-round playoff game in 1980, Phillips was fired on Dec. 31, 1980, by Oilers owner K.S. “Bud” Adams. Never ggain, until their departure for Nashville in 1997, would the Oilers again so captivate their fans or come so close to a championship.

Phillips coached for five years with the New Orleans Saints but remained a Texan, moving for the last time in 1996 to the 400-acre ranch outside Goliad where he spent his final years, true to the values he set out in an interview in the mid-1970s.

“I don’t think I could change if I wanted to, and I don’t see any reason to,” he said. “I’m going to try to live my life the way I think it ought to be led, raise my children the way they ought to be raised, coach the way I ought to coach and treat people the way they ought to be treated.

“If that happens to be country, well, then I’m country.”

‘They believe in him’

Phillips was born Sept. 29, 1923, in Orange. Both grandfathers were ranchers, and one rode the Chisholm Trail and worked for Charles Goodnight, the pioneer 19th-centrury Texas cattleman and rancher.

He got his nickname when his sister Edrina’s efforts to say “brother” came out “bumble,” which was shortened to “Bum.” “I don’t mind,” he said, “as long as it’s a name and not a description.”

He graduated from Beaumont’s French High School, served with the Marines in the South Pacific during World War II and took a job with Magnolia Petroleum under the assumption he’d work there until he retired.

But, early on, he got into a squabble with a superior about contributing to the company’s favored charity, which happened to be a cause he didn’t support.

He asked his boss if he could give to another good charity and, after that idea was rejected, he replied, “Then tell the man at the gate to have my check ready. I’m leaving.”

Phillips was 21 and hadn’t completed a college course, having withdrawn from Lamar College his freshman year to enlist after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. But driving home from the Magnolia plant, he passed the Lamar practice field and stopped to watch. Spying him, a coach came over and asked if he was interested in trying out.

“He told me I could have a scholarship if I wanted one,” Phillips recalled years later. “I really wasn’t that interested, but I realized I could go to school on the GI bill and (football) would be something I could do until I got a good job.”

After college at Lamar and Stephen F. Austin State University, he began his coaching career as an assistant in Nederland in 1950. He became head coach the next year and later was head coach at Jacksonville, Amarillo, Port Neches-Groves and Texas Western (now Texas-El Paso) and an assistant at Texas A&M (to Paul “Bear” Bryant), Houston (to Bill Yeoman, SMU (to Hayden Fry) and Oklahoma State.

“He has a great knack for handling people. They believe in him,” said Bryant, who tried, unsuccessfully, to convince Phillips to join him at Alabama after the 1957 season. “Bum’s a terrific individual with a lot of class. He has a knack for selling, which is the same as coaching.”

In 1967, he joined the San Diego Chargers as an assistant to Sid Gillman and came to Houston as Gillman’s defensive coordinator with the Oilers in 1974. He became coach and general manager when Gillman resigned after the 1974 season.

In the five years before Phillips became head coach, the Oilers were 16-52-2. In his six seasons as head coach, Houston was 55-35 with three playoff appearances and two appearances in the AFC Championship Game, losing 34-5 to Pittsburgh after the 1978 season and 27-13 to end the 1979 season.

Their breakout season was 1978, when Phillips swapped three draft picks and tight end Jimmie Giles to Tampa Bay in return for the No. 1 pick in the 1978 NFL draft, which the Oilers used to select Texas running back Earl Campbell, the 1977 Heisman Trophy winner from Tyler.

Campbell joined such veterans as center Carl Mauck, quarterback Dan Pastorini, linebackers Robert Brazile and Greg Bingham and defensive lineman Elvin Bethea on a team that captured Houston’s heart.

They were 10-6 in 1978, including a memorable 35-30 victory over Miami behind Campbell’s 199 rushing yards that introduced the “Monday Night Football” audience to the “Luv Ya Blue” phenomenon, and beat the Dolphins in the first round of the playoffs 17-9, Houston’s first playoff victory since 1961, before losing to the Steelers for the AFC title.

A year later, they improved to 11-5 and beat the Denver Broncos and the San Diego Chargers in the playoffs before another AFC title showdown at Pittsburgh. In a game that will be remembered for an official’s blown call on what appeared to be a touchdown pass to Oilers receiver Mike Renfro, Houston lost on the field but again captured the hearts of fans.

Of the first of the two mammoth Dome pep rallies, Phillips said, “Don’t forget all those people standing along the road when we were driving in. There must have been a hundred thousand of them out there. And we’d lost the damned game. I’ll take that memory to my grave.”

Houston advanced once more to the playoffs in 1980, losing to the Oakland Raiders in the first round, and Phillips was fired amid Adams’ complaints that the team lacked discipline.

“People said I was too easy on my players,” Phillips said. “We weren’t too easy on them. I love my mama, and she loved me, but she whipped me when she needed to. That’s how I felt about players.”

Trust equaled success

Former KHOU (Channel 11) sports director Gifford Nielsen, who played quarterback for Phillips in the late 1970s, then worked with him on Oilers radio broadcasts in the 1990s, said Phillips built winning teams by knocking down barriers between players.

“He could take a conservative kid out of Utah, put him with a kid who grew up in the projects in Pittsburgh, a guy from Southern California and a guy from the Deep South, and it didn’t matter what color was their skin, how big they were and what their talent level was,” Nielsen said. “He would bring them together as a team.

“The reason people liked Bum so much is because he was real. He always said, ‘Trust me, and we’ll do things my way and great things will happen.’ When we did trust him, we were successful, and it carried over not only to the team but the fans.

“Whenever we went on the road, people wanted to see Bum Phillips, and it was because of the genuine person he is. That is his legacy.”

Outside Houston, Phillips became a popular Texas-sized personality, in large part thanks to the efforts of NFL Films, which devoted an entire hour to the best of Bum as part of its “Lost Treasures of NFL Films” series.

“We probably shot more footage and had more fun following Bum around than any coach in the game,” the late NFL Films president Steve Sabol said in an interview for the series. “The perception was that because he wore a cowboy hat instead of a headset that he didn’t do much coaching. But that wasn’t the case.”

Not only did Phillips know ‘X’s’ and ‘Os’, he influenced the manner in which they’re still taught today, inventing a numbering system for the alignment of defensive linemen that he passed on to Bryant in the 1950s.

He also was the inventor and namesake of the “Bummerooski,” a trick intentional fumble play that the Oilers used to score a touchdown against the Chicago Bears in 1980.

Neal Morgan, who played at Nederland on Phillips’ first team as head coach and later became a coach and author, said coaches flocked to clinics to hear Phillips talk football.

“We often skipped lectures we had paid to attend and sat in a hotel room watching Bum draw ‘Xs’ and ‘Os’ on a blackboard until the wee hours of the morning,” Morgan wrote in a story for Bill McMurray’s book “Texas High School Football.”

Wade Phillips, who worked as an assistant coach with his father, said Bum remained an icon among Texas coaches well after retirement.

“We were at a coaching clinic in San Angelo with (Texas coach) Mack Brown in 2005, and they had him come up on stage and he got a standing ovation,” Wade Phillips said. “It was nice of him to realize that people still thought well of him.”

He became a full-time rancher after leaving the Saints in 1985, prompting another Bum-ism when he was asked about his retirement activities and replied, “Nothin’. And I don’t start doing that until noon.”

“It wasn’t because I didn’t like coaching anymore,” he said in a 2010 interview. “I just wanted to do some other things, things I’d wanted to do since I was a kid, before I got too old to do them. When you’re a coach, you don’t have time to do nothing else.”

In retirement, it wasn’t uncommon for the Phillipses to put in 11-hour days on their 400-acre ranch outside Goliad, where they moved in 1996 to raise and train cutting horses.

He was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame in 1999 and in 2004 was one of 43 Houston sports legends honored during the first “opening ceremony” program at a Super Bowl, joining former players Elvin Bethea, Pastorini and Campbell.

Characteristically, he downplayed the honor.

“So many names being tossed around,” he said, “makes me feel like a cow chip that somebody threw into the punch bowl. I’m going to go around and get autographs that night, because I don’t feel I’m in the same league.”

Phillips was hospitalized earlier this year after falling at his ranch, and his wife, Debbie, said there had been “a few bumps in the road” this year. But Phillips was upbeat, telling Chronicle staff writer Dale Robertson, “I’m gonna die sometime, but it ain’t now.”

He celebrated his 90th birthday by asking friends and fans to contribute $90 each to Bum Phillips Charities, which is raising money to build Camp Heart Sign, a summer camp on the couple’s ranch in Goliad benefiting children, families and educators that depend on American Sign Language (ASL) as a primary means of communicating.

In an interview with television station KIII, Phillips said, “Ninety is better than 89. I didn’t live what I would say is a proper life, but I lived a good life.”

The Phillips family asks for donations to the Bum Phillips Charities at 2981 S. Riverdale Lane, Goliad, Texas, 77963. You can go to bumphillipscharities.com as well. The family’s goal is to help build a home for deaf children in Goliad
 
Wow sad to hear that. Started out as an Oiler fan growing up. I'll always remember him talking about kicking the door down.

 
Bum had some of the best quotes. Here's my personal favorite I just saw on twitter...

Bum Phillips was asked by Bob Costas why he took his wife on road trips: "Because she's too ugly to kiss goodbye."

RIP Bum.

 
Here's some quotes more via a great write up on him...

http://blog.chron.com/ultimatetexans/2013/10/robertson-remembering-with-fondness-the-great-bum-phillips-and-his-place-in-houston-history/

**great read ^^**

The best of Bum

“If I could be remembered for one thing, that would be for being myself. You may not always be right, but you do what you think is right. If you’re wrong, have the ability to admit it. Both are damned important.”

“There are people, maybe two or three, that ain’t gonna like you. Not everybody likes everybody. My grandpa used to say, ‘Just nod and grin.’”

“You can lead me a lot further than you can drive me…You can’t win today by embarrassing your football players. If I played for a guy who shouted at me, I’d sock him…If you gripe at everybody you accomplish nothing. To motivate somebody, you have to explain why something needs to be done before you can ask someone to do it. Tell me why and I’ll do just about everything.”

“How do you win? By getting average players to play good and good players to play great.”

“I always thought I could coach. I just thought people were poor judges of good coaches.”

“Bear Bryant had by far the biggest influence on my life. He just had a way with people, a way of explaining things without having to curse, holler and scream. He’d brag about people, make you feel like you were the most important person in the world to him.”

“Two kinds of ballplayers aren’t worth a darn: One that never does what he’s told and one who does nothing except what he’s told.”

“You can’t practice being miserable.”

“Don Shula? Now there’s a good football coach. He can take his’n and beat your’n, or he can take your’n and beat his’n.”

“The Dallas Cowboys may be America’s team, but the Houston Oilers are Texas’ team.”

“I never scrimmage Oilers against Oilers. Houston isn’t on our schedule.”

“I think (Oilers owner Bud Adams) likes me. But that doesn’t mean he won’t fire me. You know, I’ve got to prove something. Bud doesn’t. He owns the team…There are two types of coaches: them that’s been fired and them that are gonna be fired.”

“Friendship is nothin’ you can take from a guy. He has to give it.”

“Every team better have good morale. The team that feels like, ‘Boy, this is a great place to be,’ is the team that’s gonna win.”

“I consider kickers to be football players. In a 10-7 game, one of ‘em is going to be the difference.”

“Defense is so much easier to play than offense. It’s a matter of determination and courage and want-to. Defense is a guy going out there and reacting to something. Offense? You gotta plan something. It takes 11 people to put a running play together. One guy can make a tackle.”

“If you gouge a guy, he’ll strike back. If he don’t strike back, he ain’t worth a damn. Them good ol’ boys will get you beat 21-7.”

“You gotta have rules, but you also gotta allow for a fella to mess up every once in awhile.”

“Playing Pittsburgh is like eating an ice cream cone on a hot summer day. Sometimes before you can get it all in your mouth, it gets all over you.”

“When people say we gotta play Pittsburgh twice a year, I remind them, ‘Well, they gotta play us twice, too.’”

“I like effort and extra effort. If you don’t like my attitude, see your friendly player rep.”

“You want a guy who ain’t afraid to play with a little pain. I don’t mean an injury – there’s a difference. What if you have a headache? You play. Well, a sprained ankle is the same as a headache. You tape it up and play.”

“The officials, they got a tough job. Gawdalmighty, they got a tough job. You can’t be #####in’ at ‘em all the time.”

“I joined the Marine Corps. I learned my lesson. I never joined anything again in my life. I went in as a private and, 31 months later, I came out a private. I thought they couldn’t win that war without me. Then I got in there and I thought they couldn’t win because of me. I was no hero. The guys who died fighting were the heroes. And the Marine Corps was real spit and polish. I wasn’t.”
 
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One of my favorite clips from NFL Films was Bum getting agitated with a referee on the sideline.

"That's three holding penalties on one football team in a quarter and half...."

[pauses]

"It ain't funny!"

 
Bum came into New Orleans and gave hope, life, and pride to a drowning 1-15 franchise and twice put the team within a game of the playoffs, closer than they had ever been before. In 1983 the Saints got to the last play of the season before succumbing to a Mike Lansford field goal, losing to the Rams and missing the playoffs.

He was a conservative coach whose every move was motivated by belief, passion, dedication to ball control and fundamentals - most of all he believed that running the football and defense won football games.

He brought Earl Campbell and George Rogers to the NFL and made them bigger than life.

He traded Archie Manning. In Houston and New Orleans he took on the perennial dominating teams, Pittsburgh and L.A., and he said we're not taking it anymore, and though we did not make it this time we'll be back and next time we won't knock on the door, we'll kick that door down.

Lova ya Blue, Love ya Black and Gold, Love ya Bum, you finally kicked that door down, enjoy the sunshine, you were always a champion, you still are, you always will be.

- A Saints Fan.

 
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Would have loved to have been here for the Luv Ya Blue days, though it was a decade and a half before I came to Houston. Definitely have seen how he personifies the city. Saddened by the news. :(

 
It has to be a tough week for Rex, losing his dad but still having to coach his team against the Pats on Sunday. At least Rob has the bye week. Bum obviously taught his sons well.

 
Lots of good quotes. Some coaches could learn something here.

“You can lead me a lot further than you can drive me…You can’t win today by embarrassing your football players. If I played for a guy who shouted at me, I’d sock him…If you gripe at everybody you accomplish nothing. To motivate somebody, you have to explain why something needs to be done before you can ask someone to do it. Tell me why and I’ll do just about everything.”

 
It was a funny dichotomy between Bum & Landry in Texas back then.

The Oilers were like the few-years-earlier Colts - probably the 2nd best team in the AFC in any given year, but not able to get past #1.

Phillips had one of the most devastating weapons in football history for a few years and he didn't mind using it. Campbell & Bum are forever linked in my mind.

 
Wow sad to hear that. Started out as an Oiler fan growing up. I'll always remember him talking about kicking the door down.
One of the great locker room lines was uttered by Sam Rutigliano after the Browns beat the Bengals and won the AFC Central title in 1980. The scene is on "Saints, Saviors and Sinners" which was a brilliant NFL Films production. Rutigliano said, "I got the line of the year for you. The line of the year. Bum Phillips knocked on the wrong door."

 
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Bum had some of the best quotes. Here's my personal favorite I just saw on twitter...

Bum Phillips was asked by Bob Costas why he took his wife on road trips: "Because she's too ugly to kiss goodbye."

RIP Bum.
That was by far my favorite Bum Quote. R.I.P to one of the most colorful coaches in NFL history.

 
Bum had some of the best quotes. Here's my personal favorite I just saw on twitter...

Bum Phillips was asked by Bob Costas why he took his wife on road trips: "Because she's too ugly to kiss goodbye."

RIP Bum.
That was by far my favorite Bum Quote. R.I.P to one of the most colorful coaches in NFL history.
My favorite Bum quote was - (referring to Miami Dolphins coach Don Shula) "He can take his'n and beat your'n and take your'n and beat his'n."

 
No doubt he would have gotten to two Super Bowls if it wasn't for the Steelers. Those 1978/1979 Oilers teams were just awesome.

Sadly Bum style of coaching and dealing with his players would have been destroyed by today's players but never heard a player say a bad thing about him.

 
My earliest football memories are from the Oilers/Steelers rivalry in the late 70s and being in awe of Earl Campbell and watching the Steelers try to keep him contained. My dad always thought Bum's hat was stupid, but I think he was just being a homer.

RIP Bum and the hat.

 
I'm not quite old enough to remember much from when he was actually coaching but I loved all of the old clips and highlights of him.

Seemed like a great guy and the type of character who made the league fun. Today's NFL would benefit from more like him.

R.I.P. Bum

 

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