HOUSTON – New Year’s Eve is a time for all to throw out the old and ring in the new. For former Houston Oilers head coach Bum Phillips, it brings up a very bad memory.
"It was the worst day I have ever had in my life," said Phillips.
In an interview with 11 Sports reporter Matt Musil, the 87-year old Houston icon recalls the day he got let go by the Oilers on December 31, 1980.
"It wasn’t so bad when they fired me, it’s when I had time to get back home and think about it when it really sank in."
Phillips was hired as Oilers head coach and general manager back in 1975 after spending the previous season as the team’s defensive coordinator. He led the Oilers to two straight AFC Championship games, both times falling to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
In 1980, the Oilers made the playoffs again, but lost before reaching the championship game. Even with that, Phillips was surprisingly let go.
"Everything was going so good here that I really couldn’t dream of being anywhere else other than Houston. It really shook me up and I have to admit, I was crying about it."
After leaving Houston, Phillips became head coach of the New Orleans Saints from 1981-1985 before resigning after a 30-24 victory over the Minnesota Vikings.
Bum to this day remains one of the most popular figures in Houston-sports history. He recently released a book called "Bum Phillips: Coach, Cowboy, Christian" in which he remembers his time in Houston and just how much the city means to him.
"I really love this town and still do, so much," said Phillips. "I have so many friends here you wouldn’t even believe."
"I may live in Goliad, but my heart is right here in Houston."