Associated Press and Staff Reports
HOUSTON (AP) -- Bum Phillips, the folksy Texas football icon who coached the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints, died Friday. He was 90.
"Bum is gone to Heaven," son Wade Phillips tweeted Friday night. "Loved and will be missed by all -- great Dad, Coach, and Christian."
Phillips died at his home in Goliad, Texas.
Saints owner Tom Benson remembered Phillips in a statement Saturday.
“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," said Benson in a statement. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Debbie, Wade and the rest of his family."
Coach Sean Payton also paid tribute.
"Condolences to Wade Phillips and the entire Phillips family. Rest In Peace Bum," Payton said Friday night via Twitter.
Phillips, remembered off the field for his trademark cowboy hat and folksy Texas charm, spent nearly three decades as a high school and college coach and AFL and NFL assistant. He became an NFL head coach in 1975, first with the Houston Oilers and then with the Saints from 1981-85.
"During his tenure, 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 that had a two-month work stoppage to a 4-5 record, narrowly missing the playoffs through tiebreakers," the team said in its statement.
In 1983, Phillips' Saints improved to 8-8, narrowly missing the playoffs. He resigned in the 1985 season, with his son Wade taking over coaching duties. Wade Phillips is now the defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans.
Among Phillips' roster moves during his tenure with the Saints were linebacker and future Hall of Famer Rickey Jackson; defensive end Frank Warren; tight end Hoby Brenner; defensive tackle Jim Wilks and kicker Morten Andersen, who would go on to become the NFL's all-time leading scorer and a six-time Pro Bowl selection. All of those players would become cornerstones in the Saints' first winning season and playoff berth in 1987/
Others who joined the team during Phillips' time in New Orleans included running back and Heisman Trophy winner George Rogers and wide receiver Eric Martin.