Sunday, October 20, 2013
A true giant has left us.
Oail Andrew "Bum" Phillips has passed away at the age of 90. I suppose it would be selfish to ask to have him on this Earth for another 90 years; after all, his work is done, he gave us all that he had, and he deserves to reap his reward. Because that's the man he was.
But what a loss for the rest of us mere mortals.
An incredible coach, an honorable man, and a major part of my sweetest childhood memories, Bum certainly left his mark in our hearts and in our lives. The legendary years he coached the Oilers were the most thrilling and exciting years for this chick and her Daddy-O. Like every Houstonian in the late 1970s, we caught Oiler fever. What a ride! Bum made us all believers that we were "gonna kick that sumbitch in", and by golly, we came closer than we ever had before or since.
Those were truly the glory days for my beloved city, and a special bonding time between my father and me. The Earl Campbell jerseys we wore, the ceramic figurines we painted that sold like hotcakes, the days spent glued to the television, or, when we were lucky enough, to our seats at the Astrodome, the heartbreak we endured when we came close, OH SO CLOSE, but lost our Superbowl dreams in a most brutal way. And yet, there was Bum, apologizing for letting us down. The love of the fans and the roar of the crowd upon their return to the Dome after that dismal game immediately corrected (I hope) his mistaken idea that Houston did not appreciate his and the Oilers' efforts that year. He took the burden of the loss upon his significant shoulders, because that's the man that he was.
But we had just been taken on the ride of our lives, and of course the defeat stung, but we were proud. So VERY proud of Bum and our "boys" that there was not a single seat empty in the Astrodome that day to welcome our heroes back home. We were determined to show our love, support, and gratitude, and Bum was moved to tears. Because that's the man he was. And because the Oilers weren't just "Texas' team", they were OUR team.
Pastorini, Campbell, Stabler, Bethea. Of course, these were talented players, all. But with Bum at the helm, the Oilers became even more than the sum of their parts. They became a collective legend.
I will watch the Texans game today, as usual. I will thank the powers that be that we have on board Bum's wonderful son, Wade Phillips, as Texans defensive coordinator. The acorn does not fall far from the tree, much to our good fortune. But somehow I know there will never be another Oilers, another team to rival our "Luv Ya Blue" family, another 1978-1980 streak, and there will absolutely never be another Bum. His shoes are not hard to fill; they are impossible to fill.
For those wishing to honor Bum Phillips, there are two important things you can do: if you are a resident of Harris County, PLEASE vote in favor of the Astrodome Bond Proposal on November 5, 2013. It would be the ultimate tribute to Bum, the Oilers, the citizens of Houston, and the state of Texas to restore the Astrodome for all the world to enjoy. Also, you may contribute to Bum Phillips Charities , a beloved endeavor created to make the world a better place by Bum and his dear wife, Debbie.
Rest in peace, dear Bum, and thank you so much for bringing unparalleled joy to this gal. You will be missed more than you could ever know.