HOUSTON (AP) - Bum Phillips, the folksy Texas football icon who coached the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints, died Friday. He was 90.
After spending nearly three decades as a high school and college coach and AFL and NFL assistant, Phillips served as an NFL head coach from 1975-85, first with the Houston Oilers and then with the Saints from 1981-85, for who he also handled general manager duties for the majority of his tenure.
"We are saddened by the passing of Bum Phillips," said New Orleans Saints Owner and Chairman of the Board Tom Benson. "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."
According to a release sent out by the Saints, Phillips coached two of the most successful Saints clubs up to that time. In a strike-shortened 1982 season, Phillips guided the club through a campaign which had a two month work stoppage to a 4-5 record, narrowly missing the playoffs through tie-breakers. In 1983, the Saints improved to 8-8, as they narrowly missed the playoffs following a loss in the season finale. Phillips' squad featured the NFL's second ranked defense overall and the league's top-ranked pass defense with linebacker and future Pro Football Hall of Fame member Rickey Jackson being selected to the Pro Bowl for the first time. Phillips resigned late in the 1985 season, with his son, Wade, now the defensive coordinator of the Houston Texans, taking over his duties for the final four games.