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Friends remember coach Bum Phillips


Oct. 19, 2013 at 5:19 a.m.

In this November 1981 file photo, New Orleans Saints coach Bum Phillips, left, gets an embrace from Houston Oilers center Cal Mauck, who played for Phillips until the coach was fired by the Oilers, at the Astrodome in Houston after a game.

The last time Henry Sheppard saw Bum Phillips was a year or two ago at the Citizens HealthPlex in Victoria.

Phillips was rehabbing from heart surgery but took a few moments to visit with Sheppard.

"He was very sincere and always had time to help you," Sheppard said. "He was just a warm cat."

Phillips, 90, died Friday at his Goliad ranch.

Sheppard was among the many people Phillips inspired during a long football coaching career.

Phillips was the defensive coordinator under Hayden Fry when Sheppard, a Cuero graduate, played at SMU in the 1970s.

"He was just like he was in person if you met him on the street or had any kind of conversation with him," Sheppard said. "He was just the same personality. The same person always came through. He had a rapport with the players. There was no nonsense, but he was really a super pleasant person to be around."

Shiner resident Herb Adkins became an All-Southwest Conference lineman at Baylor in the 1960s despite weighing 180 pounds.

Adkins was inducted into the Baylor Athletics Hall of Fame in 2011 and attributed the success he had in football to Phillips, his high school coach in Nederland.

Adkins weighed 168 pounds and played center on Nederland's state championship team when he was a junior.

"He's the first one who bragged on me," Adkins said at the time. "Bum used to say, 'Herby, you ain't worth a darn, but you'll play.' He said, 'If you want to play baseball, you better have an arm; if you want to run track, you better be fast; but football was all about determination and heart,' and I said, 'I've got a boatload of that.'"

Phillips' death hit hard in Goliad, where he and wife, Debbie, were active in the community.

"Bum and Debbie helped in a number of things," said Emilio Vargas, superintendent of the Goliad school district. "They were great supporters of the school district both in athletics and academics. It's a tremendous loss for the school district and the community."

Goliad athletic director and head football coach John Mares was a neighbor of Phillips, and they became good friends.

"I lost a close friend," Mares said. "He was true to his word."

Mares recalled how Phillips would often drop by the Goliad coaches' office to talk football or would stop by the school to watch football practice.

"You never knew when he was going to show up," Mares said. "It's a great thing when coaches are meeting and in walks Bum Phillips, and he starts talking about football. He knew so much. He was really interested in the kids of Goliad County."

Funeral arrangements for Phillips are being handled by the Goliad Funeral Home, which plans to finalize arrangements Tuesday.

The Phillips family is requesting that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Bum Phillips Charities.



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