PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Bob West

October 19, 2013

Bum Phillips quotepad

PORT ARTHUR —     Listed below are a series of memorable quotes from and about Bum Phillips

    “There are two kinds of coaches — them that’s been fired and them that’s gonna be fired.” — Bum on the realities of being a coach.

    “I’ve met and dined with United States presidents, movie stars and musicians, but Bear Bryant was the most captivating, impressive person I’ve ever met. He could walk into a room and everyone sat up.” — Bum on Bear Bryant.

    “I got written up four times by superiors, which might explain why I entered as a private and left as a private.” — Bum on his days as a solider during World War II.

    “Don’t ever hold a grudge against a kid. They’re going to screw up. If he screws up, correct him right then and there and leave it on the field.” — Bum, reflecting on what a mistake he once made by kicking a player off his team at Nederland.

    “Bum is a genius and I don’t just mean on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. He’s one of the smartest coaches there ever was. He was way ahead of his time.” — Former SMU, North Texas  and University of Iowa head coach Hayden Fry.

    “People like people who are honest, and Bum’s about as honest as it gets. There is no pretense, no hidden agenda. He’s not hypocritical and politically correct Iike a lot of coaches. With him, what you see is what you get. To me, he’s the football version of Abe Lemmons.” — Former Lamar University basketball coach Billy Tubbs.

    “The thing that impressed  me was what a bright person Bum was. He gave you that slow talking, country act, but he was very shrewd. He understood people about as well as anybody I’ve ever seen. And his football knowledge was remarkable. He put in the defense they ran at Nederland and it was so innovative we still use the same basic system at Alabama.” — Bear Bryant.

    “He could take a conservative kid out of Utah, put him with a kid who grew up in the projects in Pittsburgh, a guy from Southern California and a from the Deep South, and it didn’t matter what color their skin, how big they were and what their talent level was. He would bring them together as a team.” — Former Houston Oiler QB Giff Nielsen.

    “He’s unique, and I think the reason for that is in spite of all the places he’s been, he’s never lost the qualities he started with. He never puts on airs. He’d be awfully upset if anybody accused him of it.” — Former Nederland coach and then Alvin High School superintendent Emmitt McKenzie.

    “Today, when  he walks into a prison, he can turn that prison upside down. He can say more in two minutes than I can say in two hours. Why? Because of who he is.” — Former Houston Oiler tight end Mike Barber, who has a prison ministry and sometimes took Phillips with him.

    “The image of a football coach has always been that you scream and holler and get in their face to make them better. But daddy always thought and taught that teaching was the most important thing. Lead a horse to water instead of pushing him there. Cussing out a guy doesn’t make him better. Because of my dad, and because I think he coached the right way, I think I coach the right way.” — Wade Phillips.

    “He had a rapport with players like no coach I’ve ever seen.” — Author and former Nederland High School coach Neil Morgan.

    “Bum never had a secret. He’d open his files to anybody who stopped by to talk football. He was just totally unselfish. What always amazed me was that he didn’t take credit for very much. He designed the 27 defense, but you’d never know it.” — Former PAISD athletic director Howland Reich

    “Not only would he come to Lincoln and visit, he’d invite me out to Port Neches. It wasn’t the fashionable thing to do in those days, but I don’t think Bum every saw color. I’m sure he didn’t care what anybody else thought about him working with the coach at Lincoln.” A.Z. McElroy, of the help Phillips gave him in the early 1960s.

    “Most of all, what I remember is Lamar got a lot more responsible human being when I returned from the war. I wasn’t worth much before the war, but I came back a lot more mature and dependable. I did think I should have been a running back, but Ted (Jeffries) played me in the line.” Bum on playing football at Lamar.

    “What I know for sure is that God looked out for me. I struggled with faith at that moment, though, because it seemed there were a lot of people he didn’t look out for. Watching them die planted a question in my head that went unanswered for years.” Bum, on how all the death he saw in World War II impacted him.

    “What for. You can’t practice being miserable.” Bum, when asked why he didn’t bring his Oilers to town a couple of days early  to practice in freezing rain and snow before the 1978 AFC Championship game in Pittsburgh.

    “One year ago we knocked on the door. This year we beat on the door. Next year we’re gonna kick the sumbitch in.” — Bum after Houston’s back-to-back losses to Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship Game.

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