Former Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints coach Bum Phillips died Friday. He was 90.
His death was confirmed by son Wade Phillips, the Houston Texans’ defensive coordinator, via Twitter.
“Bum is gone to Heaven — loved and will be missed by all — great Dad, Coach, and Christian,” he wrote.
Phillips was best-known for turning the Houston Oilers into an AFC contender in the late 1970s. He coached the Oilers from 1975 to 1980 and the Saints from 1981 to 1985. He had a career NFL record of 86-80.
Phillips usually wore a cowboy hat on the sideline during outdoor games and was known for his folksy manner. He said he did not wear his cowboy hat for dome games because his mother told him not ever to wear hats while he was indoors.
“Mama always said that if it can’t rain on you, you’re indoors,” he said.
Phillips coached in a high school and college from 1954 to 1966. From 1967 to 1970, Phillips worked under Sid Gillman as defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers, had a one-year stint at Oklahoma State in 1973 and returned to the NFL in 1974 as the Oilers’ defensive coordinator.
Phillips took over as coach of the Oilers in 1975 and guided them to three straight playoff appearances. He was fired by owner Bud Adams in 1980. He then coached the Saints for the next five seasons.
On coaching, Phillips said, “There’s two kinds of coaches, them that’s fired and them that’s gonna be fired.”
The Oilers moved to Tennessee in 1997 and became the Titans in 1999, and are still owned by Adams. In a statement, Adams said, “We are very sad to hear of the passing of Bum Phillips. He meant a great deal to this franchise, the NFL and the city of Houston, and he was instrumental to the Oilers during the ‘Luv Ya Blue’ era. Growing up in Texas and working his way up through the Texas football ranks, he was a natural match for our team. Those were such magical years, and his leadership and personality helped our team rise to the top. He became an iconic figure on our sideline. Our thoughts are with his family, and we know he will be missed.”
Phillips worked as an NFL analyst for TV and radio before retiring to his ranch in Goliad, Texas. He had health problems in recent years, including having triple bypass surgery in 2005.
He is survived by his second wife, Debbie, and six children from his first marriage along with almost two dozen grandchildren.