Former Houston Oilers running back Earl Campbell listens during a memorial service in honor of former Oilers coach Bum Phillips on Tuesday, Oct. 29, 2013, in Houston. (AP Photo/Patric Schneider)
by Kristie Rieken
AP Sports Writer
HOUSTON (AP) — Earl Campbell thought of Bum Phillips as a second father and summed up the sentiments of many on Tuesday as he remembered his former coach.
“There will never be another Bum Phillips,” Campbell said.
Phillips, the folksy Texas football coach who led the Houston Oilers during their Luv Ya Blue heyday, died on Oct. 18 at age 90 at his ranch in Goliad, Texas.
He was buried in a private ceremony in Goliad on Oct. 23. Tuesday was a public memorial service attended by dozens of his former players including Campbell, who starred for his Oilers teams.
“When I had a chance to visit with him before he passed away, I told him: ‘Bum I want you to know this man, you sure made a difference in my life,’” Campbell said. “And of course he always says: ‘Oh EC, you’re the one.’ So I’m going to miss him.”
Phillips’ son Wade Phillips, the defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans, says the remembrance will help heal the family’s grief.
“He treated people the way you’d like to be treated and he made you feel special,” Wade Phillips said.
Campbell wasn’t the only player who thought of Phillips as a father figure.
In this November 1975 file photo, Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips, left, talks with quarterback Dan Pastorini before the Oilers’ NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Houston. (AP Photo)
“He was like a father to all of us,” former Oilers quarterback Dan Pastorini said. “He was a coach that taught us about a lot of things, a lot of things relating to football, but more things pertaining to life and making us better men and for that I’m grateful.”
Born Oail Andrew Phillips Jr. in 1923 in Orange, Phillips was a Texas original in his blue jeans, boots and trademark white Stetson — except at the Astrodome or any other dome stadium because he was taught it was disrespectful to wear a hat indoors.
“Mama always said that if it can’t rain on you, you’re indoors,” Phillips said.
Phillips loved the Oilers and when coaching the team in the 1970s, he famously said of the Cowboys: “They may be ‘America’s Team,’ but we’re Texas’ team.”
He took over as coach of the Oilers in 1975 and led Houston to two AFC championship games before he was fired in 1980. He was responsible for drafting Heisman Trophy winner Campbell, the player who was largely credited with the success of the franchise.
“I just played with a group of guys that made me look good,” Campbell said. “And I was coached by a guy that made me look good and we just fit each other. He was an unbelievable guy and a terrific person.”
Hundreds filled Houston mega church Lakewood on Tuesday night to celebrate his life and share stories about the one-of-a-kind character.