SBD/October 21, 2013/People and Pop Culture

Bum Phillips Remembered As NFL Coach/GM Who Connected With Fans, Players

Phillips' popularity stemmed in part from NFL Films' "Lost Treasures" series
Former NFL Oilers coach & GM BUM PHILLIPS "died Friday at his ranch" in Goliad, Texas, according to David Barron of the HOUSTON CHRONICLE. Phillips was "three weeks past his 90th birthday and more than three decades removed from his heyday as head coach of the Oilers" from '75-'80. But he will "be remembered as the personification of a time, a place and a team that remains deep in the hearts of everyone who saw them play." Phillips joined the Oilers in '74 as defensive coordinator and "became coach and general manager" when SID GILLMAN resigned after that season. 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" (, 10/18). THE MMQB's Peter King writes it was Phillips who made the Oilers "so attractive to the locals." He was a "Texan who wore his Cowboy boots and a huge Texas belt buckle on the sidelines, and a 10-gallon hat when games were outside." WADE PHILLIPS, Bum's son, is the Texans' defensive coordinator, and Texans DE J.J. WATT following a sack of Chiefs QB ALEX SMITH yesterday turned to the crowd and tipped an "imagine ten-gallon hat." Wade Phillips: "Yeah, that was emotional" (, 10/21).

MAN OF THE PEOPLE: SPORTS ON EARTH's Dan Pompei wrote Bum Phillips "connected with people." Pompei: "A simple, unpretentious man and coach, Phillips was unafraid of letting us see who he was." His humility "was endearing," and it "was genuine" (, 10/20). In N.Y., Richard Goldstein wrote Phillips was a "square-jawed, buzz-cut outside character with a host of one-liners" (N.Y. TIMES, 10/20). The AP's Kristie Rieken wrote Phillips was "a Texas original in his blue jeans, boots and trademark white Stetson" (AP, 10/19). NFL Network's Rich Eisen said, "Phillips was a folk hero in Texas and loved nationally, whether it was for that trademark cowboy hat or because of his way of talking" ("NFL GameDay Morning," NFL Network, 10/20). ESPN's Chris Berman said, "He was beloved by all who played for him and all who knew him and in short, he was a Texas football icon whose folksy, homespun approach hid the fact that he was actually a gridiron master" ("Sunday NFL Countdown," ESPN, 10/20).
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