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

Bum Getty Images

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.

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94 Responses to “Former NFL coach O.A. “Bum” Phillips passes at 90”
  1. riverace19 says: Oct 19, 2013 12:43 AM

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

  2. richndc says: Oct 19, 2013 12:46 AM

    Good man, he did it like it was meant to be done and changed many lives along the way. RIP

  3. Tarkus says: Oct 19, 2013 12:46 AM

    Love Ya Blue!

  4. tfbuckfutter says: Oct 19, 2013 12:49 AM

    Phillips family > Ryan family

  5. dannyreneau says: Oct 19, 2013 12:51 AM

    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…

  6. andrewluck12 says: Oct 19, 2013 12:52 AM

    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.

  7. godblessfootball says: Oct 19, 2013 12:56 AM

    RIP Coach Phillips. My condolences to the entire Phillips family.

  8. dmlonghorn says: Oct 19, 2013 12:57 AM

    Luv Ya Blue!

  9. nosmak40 says: Oct 19, 2013 12:57 AM

    God bless you, Bum!

  10. dyhard32 says: Oct 19, 2013 1:06 AM

    RIP bum you are a legend

  11. randomcommenter says: Oct 19, 2013 1:09 AM

    He could take his’n and beat your’n then take your’n and beat his’n

  12. mrwalterisgod says: Oct 19, 2013 1:12 AM

    God bless Bum Phillips.

  13. jdphx says: Oct 19, 2013 1:15 AM

    A true coaching icon. They don’t make ‘em like him anymore. RIP Bum.

  14. 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)

  15. jamaltimore says: Oct 19, 2013 1:17 AM

    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

  16. elcolon says: Oct 19, 2013 1:17 AM

    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?

  17. raiderrob21 says: Oct 19, 2013 1:17 AM

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

    Sincerely,
    The Raider Nation!

  18. doe22us says: Oct 19, 2013 1:27 AM

    I love that line may he RIP….

  19. jerrysandusky1 says: Oct 19, 2013 1:36 AM

    May god accept him

  20. thetooloftools says: Oct 19, 2013 1:39 AM

    This guy was just a great man. One of a kind.

  21. don2074978 says: Oct 19, 2013 2:02 AM

    They don’t make coaches like that anymore

  22. raiderapologist says: Oct 19, 2013 2:04 AM

    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.”

  23. anicra says: Oct 19, 2013 2:05 AM

    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.

  24. vicnocal says: Oct 19, 2013 2:10 AM

    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.

  25. kicksave1980 says: Oct 19, 2013 2:12 AM

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

  26. louhudson23 says: Oct 19, 2013 2:19 AM

    RIP,BUM. We will some kind of miss you…

  27. v2the4 says: Oct 19, 2013 2:20 AM

    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.

  28. jayovalentine says: Oct 19, 2013 2:28 AM

    RIP Coach

  29. rubicon202 says: Oct 19, 2013 3:17 AM

    I liked Bum, and I think Wade carries on their legacy, RIP!

  30. jimbo75025 says: Oct 19, 2013 3:31 AM

    Condolences.

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

    May he rest in peace.

  31. sdsockers says: Oct 19, 2013 3:47 AM

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

  32. prspicacious says: Oct 19, 2013 4:04 AM

    R.I.P. Coach Phillips.

    You gave style to your character.

  33. broncos97 says: Oct 19, 2013 4:23 AM

    R.I.P.bum now you kick in heavans door

  34. Moudabo says: Oct 19, 2013 4:26 AM

    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

  35. bloodisred says: Oct 19, 2013 4:39 AM

    Finally ‘kicked the s.o.b. in.’ Rest in peace Mr Phillips.

  36. joetoronto says: Oct 19, 2013 4:59 AM

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

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

  37. jjrs89 says: Oct 19, 2013 5:24 AM

    luv ya blue!

  38. sterling7 says: Oct 19, 2013 6:28 AM

    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”!

  39. derrickbrooks4president says: Oct 19, 2013 6:29 AM

    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.

  40. alonestartexan says: Oct 19, 2013 6:30 AM

    Bum was a greater man than he was a coach. He will be missed.

  41. roverboy1949 says: Oct 19, 2013 6:48 AM

    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.

  42. txhockeydad says: Oct 19, 2013 6:49 AM

    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.

  43. ceejayb says: Oct 19, 2013 6:50 AM

    A true legend of the NFL. My thoughts are with his family.

  44. jr4real says: Oct 19, 2013 6:58 AM

    Great guy. Great for football/nfl.

  45. tomthebombtracy says: Oct 19, 2013 7:05 AM

    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.”

  46. wearethesteelers says: Oct 19, 2013 7:12 AM

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

    HAHA

  47. Foghorn The IKonoclast says: Oct 19, 2013 7:18 AM

    I know he was older but I am still sad. A true great and will miss him…..

  48. brownstain says: Oct 19, 2013 7:21 AM

    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 .

  49. araidersfan says: Oct 19, 2013 7:38 AM

    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.

  50. kegowhisky says: Oct 19, 2013 7:50 AM

    RIP Mr. Phillips, an icon who will be missed and made his mark on the game.

  51. elmerbrownelmerbrown says: Oct 19, 2013 7:51 AM

    Bum was a gentleman and cool at the same time,,,,thats a man !

  52. haywoodjablomee says: Oct 19, 2013 7:55 AM

    What a great person and coach.

  53. bearsoxass says: Oct 19, 2013 7:56 AM

    R.I.P. Sir.

  54. papichulo55 says: Oct 19, 2013 8:01 AM

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

  55. texaned80 says: Oct 19, 2013 8:05 AM

    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

  56. cometkazie says: Oct 19, 2013 8:11 AM

    RIP, Bum.

    You were a real treat.

  57. purpblooded says: Oct 19, 2013 8:12 AM

    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!

  58. n001363 says: Oct 19, 2013 8:13 AM

    If you didn’t get to see this guy coach, I feel sorry for you. Wish there were more like him.

  59. cwk22 says: Oct 19, 2013 8:15 AM

    RIP until resurrection day.

  60. rayjayjohnsonjr says: Oct 19, 2013 8:18 AM

    RIP, Mr. Phillips.

  61. dctitanfan says: Oct 19, 2013 8:53 AM

    Luv ya blue. Luv ya Bum.

  62. larams29 says: Oct 19, 2013 8:54 AM

    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.

  63. catfish252 says: Oct 19, 2013 8:55 AM

    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.

  64. jetsjetsjetsnow says: Oct 19, 2013 9:24 AM

    Those were some fun games to watch back in the heyday. Great nostalgia. Thanks for your contributions to the game. Peace to Bum & his family.

  65. thefiesty1 says: Oct 19, 2013 9:32 AM

    COACH!

  66. olcap says: Oct 19, 2013 9:33 AM

    RIP

    “Run the Bumerooski…”

  67. joelvis72 says: Oct 19, 2013 9:35 AM

    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.

  68. masterblaster78 says: Oct 19, 2013 9:47 AM

    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.

  69. theskinsman says: Oct 19, 2013 9:56 AM

    I had the utmost respect for Bum. Great coach,and from all I’ve read,great human being.RIP.

  70. bobzilla1001 says: Oct 19, 2013 10:04 AM

    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…

  71. thegonz13 says: Oct 19, 2013 10:24 AM

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

  72. zurnvs says: Oct 19, 2013 10:28 AM

    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.

  73. zurnvs says: Oct 19, 2013 10:28 AM

    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.

  74. raymondtx says: Oct 19, 2013 10:30 AM

    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!

  75. slick50ks says: Oct 19, 2013 10:33 AM

    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.

  76. titans12thman says: Oct 19, 2013 10:44 AM

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

  77. melikefootball says: Oct 19, 2013 10:47 AM

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

  78. ascensionparish says: Oct 19, 2013 10:53 AM

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

  79. tennesseeoilers says: Oct 19, 2013 11:36 AM

    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.

  80. DaveKShape says: Oct 19, 2013 11:48 AM

    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.

  81. bergthe1st says: Oct 19, 2013 12:00 PM

    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.

  82. patssox says: Oct 19, 2013 12:15 PM

    Why couldn’t it have been Buddy Ryan??

  83. scandiman says: Oct 19, 2013 12:23 PM

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

  84. joewilliesshnoz says: Oct 19, 2013 1:18 PM

    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.

  85. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Oct 19, 2013 1:24 PM

    After asked why his wife travels to all the road games, Bum said, “because she is too ugly to kiss good-bye”.

    Bum Phillips one of a kind.

  86. 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.

  87. texasmaverick2000 says: Oct 19, 2013 1:55 PM

    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.

  88. jimbo75025 says: Oct 19, 2013 2:53 PM

    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.

  89. rambo888 says: Oct 19, 2013 3:36 PM

    Bum Phillips and Earl Campbell now that was football!

  90. cgsuddeath says: Oct 19, 2013 4:59 PM

    What a depressing way to start out a morning

  91. hippieway says: Oct 19, 2013 5:04 PM

    I am a Titans fan because I moved to Houston in 1976 and Bum and the Oilers were the most fun to be had in the NFL and I never got over it. RIP

  92. cgsuddeath says: Oct 19, 2013 5:09 PM

    I will never forget the playoff game against the Heavily favored Patriots in 1978.Bum had that team ready to play.

  93. soaringeagle13 says: Oct 19, 2013 10:47 PM

    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

  94. soaringeagle13 says: Oct 19, 2013 11:42 PM

    He didn’t coach the Saints in 91…he coaches them from 81 to 85..I believe Jim Mora was the coach in 91

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