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Bum Phillips, Former New Orleans Saints Head Coach, Dead at 90

Bum Phillips
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

He was one of the NFL’s most distinctive coaches, and he was the first New Orleans Saints head coach to last more than two years with the team.  Oail Andrew “Bum” Phillips passed away yesterday at the age of 90.

An Orange, Texas, native, Phillips started his football career playing for Lamar in Beaumont prior to World War II. He later enlisted in the Marines, but returned to college after the war — first at Lamar and then later at Stephen F. Austin.

He coached at every level of the game — from high school to college to the NFL — including stops at Texas A&M, the University of Houston, Southern Methodist University, Oklahoma State and the University of Texas at El Paso. He went on to work as an assistant coach with the San Diego Chargers and also served as head coach for the Houston Oilers, going on to become the winningest coach in that franchise’s history before getting fired in 1980.

Phillips became the eighth head coach of the Saints in 1981.  With the Saints, however, he was not as successful, going 27-49 before his resignation in 1985, when current owner Tom Benson bought the team.

A colorful figure, he was best known for his trademark cowboy hats, which he wore to every game except the indoor ones.  The reason?  His mother taught him never to wear a hat indoors.

Phillips later went on to do some television work, but eventually retired to his Texas ranch. His son, Wade Phillips — who took over for the Saints after Bum resigned — continues to coach in the NFL today.

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