Former Oilers coach Bum Phillips dies at 90

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“We are saddened by the passing of Bum Phillips,” Saints owner Tom Benson said in a statement released by the team. “I had the opportunity to work with him when I first purchased the team in 1985 and also enjoyed our friendship following his coaching career. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Debbie, Wade and the rest of his family.”

Phillips played football at Lamar Junior College before joining the Marines during World War II. After the war he went to Stephen F. Austin where he played two more football seasons before graduating with a degree in education in 1949.

He spent about two decades coaching in high schools and colleges mostly in Texas _ he assisted the likes of Bear Bryant at Texas A&M, Bill Yeoman at Houston, and Hayden Fry at SMU _ before making the jump to the AFL in 1967 as an assistant under Sid Gillman with the San Diego Chargers. Phillips came to Houston in 1974 as Gillman’s defensive coordinator and became coach and general manager when Gillman resigned after that season.

Phillips picked up the nickname Bum as a child when his younger sister couldn’t pronounce brother correctly and it sounded like bum. He embraced the nickname and was quoted as saying: “I don’t mind being called Bum, just as long as you don’t put a `you’ in front of it.”

Phillips did some work as an analyst on television and radio football broadcasts for a bit before retiring to his ranch in Goliad.

Although he left Houston, he always remained fond of the city. The Oilers moved to Tennessee and became the Titans in 1997 and Houston returned to the NFL in 2002 when the Texans began play.

He was asked how he feels about the two teams in Texas in 2007 when son Wade was named coach of the Cowboys.

“Your son is coaching one team and the other team is the town you love more than any other,” he said. “It’s kind of hard to pull. They’re not on the schedule, so I don’t have to make that decision this year.”

Wade Phillips said his father was still sharing tips with him this season.

“He always gives me a little advice about why did you play this on that certain down and this stuff,” Wade said. “He’s sharp on all the football stuff.”

Phillips is survived by his second wife, Debbie, and six children from his first marriage along with almost two dozen grandchildren.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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