ATLANTA — Wade Phillips won Departure Sunday sporting a vintage family heirloom. Now he’ll see if the Bum Phillips mojo carries over to Super Bowl Sunday.
Phillips, the 71-year-old Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator and son of the legendary Bum Phillips, sported his father’s coat and a ten-gallon hat as he boarded the plane Sunday night in Los Angeles to travel to Atlanta for Super Bowl week.
Wade confirmed that he was indeed wearing his father’s coat, a wool-and-leather beauty that looked like it came right off the set of a John Wayne western … much like Bum himself.
“I did it for him,” Wade told Yahoo Sports at Media Night on Monday. “Great memories … he always wanted to be in a Super Bowl, so that’s why I did it.”
Bum Phillips was a throwback in the best sense of the word, a crusty coach who seemed carved right out of Texas rock. He coached the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints from the mid-70s to the mid-80s.
“He wore that jacket on the sideline during games when it was cold,” Phillips said. “They wouldn’t let anybody do that anymore. So that was the neat part of it.”
Bum never reached the Super Bowl himself; the best mark his Luv Ya Blue Oilers managed was two straight AFC championship losses to Pittsburgh in the 1978 and 1979 seasons. Wade, meanwhile, has reached two Super Bowls: three years ago with the Broncos, and now this year with the Rams.
Bum Phillips once said of Bear Bryant, “He can take his’n and beat your’n, and then he can take your’n and beat his’n.” The same could be said of Bill Belichick, who’s going to put together an offensive gameplan that’ll test every element of Phillips’ defense. And Belichick is aware of just what a challenge Wade — and, by association, Bum — presents.
“[Wade has] been successful everywhere he’s been,” Belichick said earlier this week. “He’s been doing it for 30 years in multiple organizations with multiple groups of players against every kind of offense he could see. I remember dealing with him when I was in Cleveland. And to his credit, there’s not many of us that have a system that can last that long. I’ve certainly changed a lot in the last 30 years, schematically. Wade really . . . hasn’t. He really hasn’t. You’ve got to give him credit for that. The system has lasted. I mean, really, this is part of his dad’s system that he’s developed and adapted and developed there.”
You can read that as praise for Phillips’ solid foundations, or you can read it as a subtle dig at an inability to change. When asked what Bum might do to attack a Belichick offense, Wade protected his cards like a frontier gambler.
“I don’t think anybody has the answer to that,” Wade said. “Maybe listen to Tony Romo before the plays are called, that’s about it.”
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