Wade Phillips has had a long and successful career as a defensive coordinator. But as a head coach, things haven’t worked out so well, and he’s still miffed over the way things went down during his last full-time head-coaching job, in Dallas.
Phillips writes in his forthcoming autobiography that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones hired Jason Garrett to be the team’s offensive coordinator before hiring Phillips to be the head coach, and that Jones later gave Garrett a raise that paid him more than Phillips was making. When Phillips asked for a better deal for himself, Jones made him an offer that Phillips didn’t think was commensurate with the success he’d had to that point.
“I took the deal, although I still didn’t think it was right,” Phillips wrote, as excerpted by Deadspin. “Jerry can do what he wants to do as owner, obviously. I just didn’t think it was right that an assistant coach was making more than a head coach. He could have paid me more. He had plenty of money. Still does. But he’s a businessman and his business side made that decision.”
The Cowboys began the following season with a 13-7 loss that Phillips pins on Garrett for calling a risky play at the end of the first half that turned into a fumble and a defensive touchdown.
“I didn’t know Jason was going to run a play after having a ten-yard penalty and only four seconds on the clock instead of kneeling on the ball, which was what we should have done,” Phillips wrote.
Phillips was fired midway through that season, with a 1-7 record. Garrett took over as interim coach the rest of the way, went 5-3 over the final eight games, and was given the job on a permanent basis after the season. Phillips thinks he would have turned the team around over the second half of the season the same way Garrett did, if only Jones would have given him the chance.
“I felt like—and I still feel like—we could have won those last two games as well. You never know when it’s going to turn around, but that didn’t happen,” Phillips wrote.
Ultimately, Phillips realizes that Jones owns the team, but Phillips thinks Jones made the wrong move by firing him.
“It all comes back to the fact that the guy who owns the team can do whatever he wants to do even if you don’t think it makes a lot of sense,” Phillips wrote.
Phillips is ordinarily one of the most genial men in the NFL. But he doesn’t sound like he has particularly warm feelings toward Jones or Garrett.