Former NFL coach O.A. “Bum” Phillips passes at 90

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O.A. “Bum” Phillips, one of the most colorful coaches in NFL history, has passed away.  Phillips was 90.

Bum is gone to Heaven,” his son, Wade, posted on Twitter, “loved and will be missed by all — great Dad, Coach, and Christian.”

Bum Phillips, who wore a cowboy hat on the sideline except when playing in a dome (since it technically was indoors), coached the Oilers from 1975 through 1980, leading Houston to a pair of AFC title games.  He then coached the Saints from 1981 through 1985.

Wade has coached a trio of NFL teams.  He currently serves as defensive coordinator with the Texans.

In 1980, after consecutive losses to the Steelers in Pittsburgh for a berth in the Super Bowl, Bum was defiant.

“One year ago we knocked on the door. This year we beat on the door,” Phillips said, via the Houston Chronicle.  “Next year we’re gonna kick the sumbitch in.”

It didn’t happen, and the Texans are still trying to do what the Oilers were unable to accomplish.

Bum Phillips had been raising money to build a home for deaf children in Goliad, Texas.  Contributions can be made to Bum Phillips Charities at 2981 S. Riverdale Lane, Goliad, Texas, 77963 or at bumphillipscharities.com.

We extend our condolences to the Phillips family and to Coach Phillips’ friends, colleagues, and players.

94 responses to “Former NFL coach O.A. “Bum” Phillips passes at 90

  1. One of the games greats.. I will never forget him. The Oilers were the most fun team to watch in their heyday.

  2. I’m to young to know much about Bum Philips, but i’ve always liked Wade. His defense is what scares me when KC faces the Texans on Sunday. Sorry for your loss, Wade, you actually made me not completely hate the cowboys when you were HC. I’m sorry for your loss. Also, i always gravitate towards people who use the term “sumbitch”, i think i would have like the guy…

  3. always love watching the nfl films segments of him. too bad i wasn’t around when he was coaching. i’ve read nothing but good things about him. the nfl lost a legend today.

  4. Sad news. Condolences for the family. I forgot or was too young to realize he was the coach of that Saints team with Bobby Hebert that looked pretty unbeatable early in 1991 (I remember them shutting out the Vikings 16-0 week 5 or 6 maybe of that year and being in absolute shock the Vikings were shut out. I’d later get used to the disappointment)

  5. Bum Phillps rest in peace. The NFL is a the fabric of america. You were a fabric of the NFL and a true legend of the game. There should be a cowboy hat patch on EVERY jersey Sunday. God bless and for now HOUSTON OILERS #1

  6. I’m more of a new fan (last 10 years) so I don’t know who he is unfortunately – but may he rest in peace. How did he get the nickname Bum?

  7. Luv ya blue!
    R.I.P Bum
    Fond memories as a kid watching our teams battle!

    Sincerely,
    The Raider Nation!

  8. I’m probably going to screw this up, but I think Bum once said, when talking about Don Shula, “He can take hizzen and beat yourn, and take yourn and beat hizzen.”

  9. Gone to the great Astrodome in the sky

    -Luv Ya Blue-
    ‘Cause we’re the Houston Oilers, Houston Oilers, Houston Oilers, Number One.
    Yes, we’re the Houston Oilers, Houston Oilers, Houston Oilers, Number One.’

    Never been an Oilers fan just remember the song and Earl Campbell when I was a kid.

  10. It goes without saying that in today’s corporate, sterilized, Goodellized NFL, where Mike Nolan gets fined for wearing a suit & tie on the sideline when he was coaching the Niners, a colorful character like Bum would never be allowed to do his thing, much less wear a cowboy hat on the sideline that wasn’t plastered with the logo of an official NFL sponsor or something.

  11. One of sports’ true characters. We could use more guys like him in this age of sound bytes and cliches. Rest in peace

  12. As a native Houstonian, no matter what the Texans do, short of winning a super bowl, the #LuvYaBlue era in Houston was quite possibly the most exciting football experience this city has ever had, and Bum Phillips was personally responsible for that…
    he coached 5 future hall of famers, was father to a future nfl coach and was a mentor to hundreds of others.

    Rest in peace Bum. the world will miss you, but Heaven is surely rejoicing.

  13. Condolences.

    Neither Bum nor Wade were the greatest HCs, but both are/were good men.

    May he rest in peace.

  14. One of the more colorful characters in the NFL. My condolences to the Phillips family.
    R.I.P., ‘Bum’.

  15. A rivalry is hollow without a fierce and worthy adversary,
    and Bum Phillips and his Oilers were as tough as they come.
    Although the final tally favors the Steelers, it by no way
    means the contests were not hard fought and brutal.
    The games included many legendary players of that era and
    cemented my love for football.
    As a young Steelers fan, I disliked, but learned to respect
    coach Phillips and his role in those games. And now, I’m saddened
    to hear of his passing. A great football man, and worthy opponent.

    My condolences to the Phillips family …
    RIP Coach

  16. I’m sorry to hear about this, I remember him well.

    The man was and is a fixture in NFL history, RIP.

  17. I never knew you personally of course but you Bum are a part of my life because of my love of football. Thank you and God bless you and I will meet you down the road “pardner”!

  18. Rest in peace Bum. You were a big part of my love for football back in my childhood. “Luv ya blue!!”. Now Roger Goodell is fueling the game we love to it’s demise. Just like “He who shall remain nameless” has already done to baseball.

  19. Good guy. Old school coach who was always classy. I’m sure he’ll be on the sidelines coaching the guys that went before him. We will miss him.

  20. I don’t think people outside of Houston can truly understand how beloved this man is. He provided some of my happiest memories from ” Luv Ya Blue”, and he spent his life giving to others. Thank you, God, for men like Bum. I’m pretty sure it’s okay to hear the hat in heaven.

  21. A Pittsburgh ad firm got the idea to have one of their clients who actually made steel doors ship one to Bum and it turned into a PR bonanza. Bum ate it up. Saw a replay recently of footage enhanced. Yes, I believe now Mike Renfro had both feet inbounds. Of course, I also believe Ostwald acted alone. God bless YouBum and may He hold you in His Hands. Fav Bum quote…about what is a good coach. “He can beat his’ins with yours’ins and yours’ins with his’ins.”

  22. “One year ago we knocked on the door. This year we beat on the door,” Phillips said

    HAHA

  23. My favorite NFL coach next to old Browns coach Sam Rutigliano . They both were known for great one liners and had press conferences that were more entertaining than the games .

  24. Bum was a pretty good HC although not in the same coaching class as ’70s contemporaries like Landry, Shula, Madden, Noll, Grant, G. Allen. However I thought he was highly entertaining and good for the Houston Oilers after many down years before he came on board. A fun, quotable guy but without the drama, vindictiveness or ego displayed by the majority of HCs out there today.

    His plan to get past the Steelers and win the Super Bowl in the 1980 season by acquiring a bunch of ex-Raiders backfired when the Silver & Black crushed his team in that year’s AFC Wild Card match on the way to Oakland’s 2nd Lombardi. That got Bum fired by Bud Adams but I think that it was a moronic move on the owner’s part with the Oilers returning to mediocrity in Bum’s absence.

    R.I.P.

  25. A coaches’ coach and a mans’ man. He could take hizzin and beat yourzin, or take yourzin and beat hizzin. Well done, Coach!

  26. Goodbye to the most beloved and influential person in Houstons NFL football history, and most of all a wonderful and great man.. You will always be remembered and always hold a special place in the hearts of Houstonians and there you will live forever…
    My deepest condolecences and prayers go out to to Phillips family..
    NOW LETS RALLY BEHIND THE HOME TOWN KID AND WIN THIS ONE FOR BUM!
    AND DONT EVER LOOK BACK!

    #NeverSayNever

  27. Bum was in the Marine Corps RAIDERS (early special forces) with my Uncle. They saw heavy fighting, including hand to hand, in the south Pacific during WW2. Rest in peace, Bum. Thanks for your service! You too, Uncle Ray!

  28. I remember watching game footage of an Oilers game. Bum was mad about a penalty. Bum told the referee “Now you can’t do that” “If you do it, you’re gonna go to hell for it.” Classic Bum Phillips. Wish the NFL had a few more coaches with his sideline humor.

  29. Thanks for all you gave to football Bum, My thoughts and Prayers go out to your family and just ask the Good Lord to bring peace and comfort to you all.

  30. In early 1984, my family was in Houston, and the paper advertised that Bum would be signing autographs at a local auto dealership. Being Saints fans from Louisiana, we went. My dad, jerk that he is, asked Bum why he punted instead of letting Morten Andersen try a long field goal against the Rams in the last game of the ’83 season, when a win would have gotten them into the playoffs for the first time. Bum said, “‘Cause I’M the COACH, THAT’S why.” As a 10-year old punk, I was embarrassed, but I’ve still got my signed Bum photo and a great memory of my dad making a fool out of himself. Luv ya Bum.

  31. RIP coach. I always watched the Oilers when you were coach, even when that SOB came by and stole you hat. I always had a lot of respect for you. When in Houston I even visited the practice facility.

  32. Back in the 1970s, the Steelers had two arch-rivals: The Oakland Raiders and, later in the decade, the Houston Oilers.
    For some reason, beating Bum Phillips and his Oilers never seemed quite as satisfying as beating John Madden and his Raiders. Probably because Mr. Phillips never made excuses.
    It was nearly impossible to work up a dislike for the Oilers, and Mr. Phillips’ calm and country demeanor were the reasons for that.
    He was class personified tucked neatly into those powder-blue, pointed-toed, alligator-skin cowboy boots…

  33. One of the NFL’s true characters and good guys. Rest in peace, Bum. You made football truly enjoyable.

  34. R.I.P Bum

    Got his nickname when his sister couldn’t pronounce brother. Bum said he was ok with Bum as long as there was no you in front of it.

  35. R.I.P Bum

    Got his nickname when his sister couldn’t pronounce brother. Bum said he was ok with Bum as long as there was no you in front of it.

  36. Houston will always love Bum. So many great stories about him. As a native Houtonian, it feels good that people (you guys) from around the country are remembering him today. Thanks for commenting!

  37. RIP Coach.

    And to all you posters out there, thank you for the kind words recognizing a great man for his contributions to the game we love.

    They don’t make em like Bum anymore, and that’s a cryin shame. Condolences to the city of Houston as well. Here’s to a good game on Sunday.

  38. Rest in peace Bum, you are forever apart of the storied history of this franchise and you will be missed. LOVE YA BLUE!!! #greatman

  39. RIP Coach , I will always remember the great games Houston and the Pittsburgh played with you as coach.

  40. RIP Bum, on behalf of Saints fans everywhere. “Faith, hope, and Bum.” We were blessed to have all three at the same time.

  41. As a kid in the ’70s I was obsessed with the Redskins and the NFC. To me, the AFC was like a different world. But Bum Phillips? Incomparable. He shined through that AFC fog for me and I took a liking to him and his Oilers. All these years later, I’m still disappointed he didn’t knock off the Steelers and that he had the refs kill his comeback attempt on them in the playoffs.

  42. It’s funny to think that people are born and choose to spend most of their short lives worrying about football, but that dude was clearly one of the better people to ever make that choice. Happy trails, Bum! RIP for real.

  43. sikoix wrote:
    Sad news. Condolences for the family. I forgot or was too young to realize he was the coach of that Saints team with Bobby Hebert that looked pretty unbeatable early in 1991 (I remember them shutting out the Vikings 16-0 week 5 or 6 maybe of that year and being in absolute shock the Vikings were shut out. I’d later get used to the disappointment)

    Jim Mora was coach of the Saints from 86-93. Bum was before that. Coincidentally, both were coaches who were fathers of NFL coaches.

  44. Houston should wear their throwback jerseys at their next home game in his honor! Saddened by the loss…..

  45. As a kid growing up in the 70’s, the games between Bum’s Oilers and Chuck Noll’s Steelers turned into wars, the kinda games we’ll never get to see again, I’m gonna miss’em. God bless ya Bum.

  46. “Except when he played in a dome?”

    He coached in the Houston Astrodome and the Louisiana Superdome.

    So he didn’t wear his hat all that often.

  47. How can I feel such a loss for a person I never even actually met? Bum was a true gentleman….a throwback to the time when there were men of honor and men of their word – ALWAYS. I was at the first of those infamous post-loss pep rallies following the Pittsburgh game and I will never forget it. RIP, Bum. You were always at all times in all situations a class act.

  48. kd75 says:
    Oct 19, 2013 1:36 PM
    “Except when he played in a dome?”
    He coached in the Houston Astrodome and the Louisiana Superdome.
    So he didn’t wear his hat all that often.
    —–
    What does it matter? Face it, you saw a coach wearing that jacket and hat these days on the sidelines at anytime and the league office would explode with fines flying left and right.

    Bum seems like he would have been a great guy just to talk to for an hour over a beer at an out of the way bar somewhere.

  49. sikoix says:
    Oct 19, 2013 1:17 AM
    Sad news. Condolences for the family. I forgot or was too young to realize he was the coach of that Saints team with Bobby Hebert that looked pretty unbeatable early in 1991 (I remember them shutting out the Vikings 16-0 week 5 or 6 maybe of that year and being in absolute shock the Vikings were shut out. I’d later get used to the disappointment

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