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So Long, Bum

8:31 AM, Oct 20, 2013 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
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He had a real name but nobody knew it.  He was known universally as "Bum" Phillips and he was one of the best loved football coaches never to win a championship.  Never, in fact, to play in one.  His teams came close.  They were one game from the Super Bowl in successive years.  After the second loss, Phillips told fans of the Houston Oilers, “One year ago we knocked on the door. This year we beat on the door. Next year we’re gonna kick the sumbitch in.”

Oail Andrew Phillips

Didn't happen.  And he knew what to expect having observed, famously, that “There’s two kinds of coaches: them that’s been fired, and them that’s gonna be fired.” 

He had a hat full of them.  And the cowboy hat was his trademark, which he wore except when the team was playing at home, in the Astrodome because, as he explained,  "Mama told me never to wear my hat indoors."

He kept it in perspective, which would make him an utter outlier among current day football coaches.  And he purely had a way with words.  On the matter of just how good was another coach (Bear Bryant or Don Shula, depending on who is telling the story), Phillips said:

“He can take his’n and beat your’n. Or he can take your’n and beat his’n.”

Describing the gifted running back Earl Campbell, Phillips put it this way:

"He may not be in a class by himself, but it sure don't take long to call the roll."

Oail Andrew Phillips was 90.  

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