Watt, Ware coming to PA to toast Phillips
Wade Phillips is coming home, J.J. Watt and Demarcus Ware are coming to Port Arthur and Bob West is coming out of retirement.
The convergence of those happenings is a June 3 Port Arthur News Homecoming Roast to salute Phillips, the former Port Neches-Groves quarterback/linebacker for his monumental role in the Denver Broncos defense being ranked among the best in NFL history.
Watt and Ware, two of Phillips’ favorite defensive players, are the headline roasters for the evening. Both hold him in such high esteem they quickly accepted invitations to be part of festivities to salute him at the Carl Parker Center.
West, who retired last April after 43 years as sports editor of the Port Arthur News, was the chairman of 12 previous Homecoming Roasts. He and Phillips go back to Wade’s very first job as a high school coach at now defunct Orange Stark High School in 1970.
Tables of eight for the roast, as well as single tickets, can be reserved by calling Sam Monroe at (409) 984-6262. Included is a meal with wine and a roast souvenir tied to Phillips. Proceeds from the event once again go to the Museum of the Gulf Coast.
“I am thrilled to be chairman of a roast for Wade Phillips and excited that we have two future NFL Hall of Famers in JJ Watt and Demarcus Ware to headline the event,” West said. “As folks in these parts know, Wade is a terrific coach and one of the nicest, most humble men you will evert meet. He deserves this.”
Phillips has attended many of the Homecoming Roasts. He watched his dad, Bum Phillips, honored in 1989 and was one of the roasters last year for Port Arthur star running back Jamaal Charles of the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I am honored to be roasted and hopefully toasted in the Golden Triangle,” he said. “I have so many great friends there. It’s where it all began for me. It will be wonderful to be back ‘HOME.’ Knowing I am going to have a bust in the Museum of the Gulf Coast alongside my dad makes this extra special.”
Phillips put the wraps on his 38th NFL season with a coaching job that has been hailed far and wide for how masterful it was. His Broncos were No.1 in the NFL in total defense, yards per play, yards allowed passing and sacks. Denver was No. 3 against the run and No. 4 in points allowed.
The Broncos were even better in the playoffs, shutting down three of the game’s top quarterbacks – Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger, New England’s Tom Brady and Carolina’s NFL MVP Cam Newton – and holding their teams to a combined 44 points. They did it despite a mediocre Denver offense that couldn’t move the chains and kept the defense under constant pressure.
Phillips has spent 24 of his 38 NFL seasons as a defensive coordinator with seven different teams – eight if you count stops in Denver 25 years apart. He acquired the tag “Mr. Fix It” because of how quickly he elevated defenses he inherited. In his last eight NFL stops, each new team made the playoffs in the first season.
In head coaching jobs at Dallas (34-22), Buffalo (29-19) and Denver (16-16) he produced a record of 79-57. His overall head coaching record is 82-64 because of interim stints with losing teams in New Orleans, Atlanta and Houston.
Phillips and Jimmy Johnson are the only Dallas Cowboys coaches to win 13 games in a season. In Buffalo, coaching against legends Johnson (Miami) and Bill Parcells (NY Jets) in the AFC East, his first two teams went 11-5, 10-6 and made the playoffs. After an 8-8 third season, he was fired in 2000. Buffalo has not managed a winning season since.
Wade’s .564 NFL regular-season winning percentage is better than both Johnson (.556) and Bum (.516).
Watt, meanwhile, is a member of the Houston Texans in large part because Phillips pushed hard for the team to take him with the No. 11 pick in the 2011 draft. In the five years since – three of them under Phillips – he’s become a one-man wave of destruction for NFL offenses, a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks and a national celebrity.
The 6-5, 290 pounder from Wisconsin has made first team All-Pro four consecutive seasons. In 2014, he became the first player to have two years of 20 sacks or more. He’s the only man to be named NFL Defensive Player of the Year three times. He’s the Texans’ all-time leader in sacks (74.5) and forced fumbles (15).
Ware, who was also taken 11th in the NFL draft (2015), played three-plus years under Philips in Dallas, then was reunited with him last season in Denver. Lined up opposite Texas A&M’s Von Miller, the 11-year veteran gave the Broncos bookend pass rushers who were catalysts in the team winning a Super Bowl on the back of its defense.
The native of Auburn, Ala., has been first team All-Pro three times, has been chosen to 11 Pro Bowls and owns 134.5 career sacks and 35 forced fumbles. He’s the Cowboys all-time leader in both categories – 117 sacks, 32 forced fumbles.
Ware narrowly missed beating Watt to become the first player with a pair of 20-sack seasons, getting 20 in 2008 and 19.5 in 2011. He had two sacks and numerous hits and hurries on Newton in the Broncos’ 24-10 Super Bowl victory.
Additional roasters and the name of the master of ceremonies will be announced in next Sunday’s Port Arthur News.