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Houston Oilers coaching legend Bum Phillips dies at 90

Former Houston Oilers head coach Bum Phillips died on Friday night at the age of 90. Wade Phillips, Bum’s son and the current Houston Texans defensive coordinator, tweeted the news.

Bum PhillipsFittingly, Wade’s Twitter handle has always been “sonofbum,” which goes to show how well known and beloved Bum was throughout the state of Texas.

Houston Chronicle NFL reporter John McClain says Bum died at his home in Goliad after a long illness.

Phillips coached at multiple Texas institutions throughout his career. He served as an assistant at Texas A&M, Houston, SMU and UTEP (then known as Texas Western). He was the head coach of the Oilers from 1975-80 and his teams went 59-38, including the playoffs. He then coached the New Orleans Saints from 1981-85, but his teams struggled going 27-42.

Bum was one of the most quotable and fun coaches of his time.

“There’s two kinds of coaches: them that’s been fired, and them that’s gonna be fired,” was one of his classic lines.

Phillips’ Oilers lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game in 1978 and ’79. The consecutive losses inspired this awesome quote:

“One year ago we knocked on the door. This year we beat on the door. Next year we’re gonna kick the sumbitch in.”

Of course, the Oilers came up short the next season and Bum was fired by team owner Bud Adams after a first-round playoff loss to the Raiders.

Phillips’ charisma and unique personality led him to be named No. 8 on NFL Films’ list of greatest NFL characters of all time.

Phillips’ family has asked for donations to help build a home for deaf children instead of flowers. McClain provided that information:

The Chronicle has much more on Phillips if you’re looking for a better obituary. You can also check out the SI Vault for this 1997 profile of Bum.

Photo: Flickr/AJ Guel



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  • Keith DeHart

    God Bless you Bum for given me my deepest love and pride in my home town team

  • Terry Monroe

    I always loved listening to Bum. My favorite quote “Last year we knocked on the door. This year we beat on it. Next year we’re going to kick the son of a bitch in…” RIP