Harold Wade Phillips was born in Orange County, Texas on June 21, 1947 to  Oail Andrew (Bum) and Helen Phillips. Wade is the eldest, then came five daughters: Susan, Cicely, DeeJean, Andrea, and Kimann. They lived in an older home across the street behind Nederland High School. The high school building has long since been torn down. So has that old house. Bum was in his mid-20s and working full time for Magnolia Oil Refinery after serving in the Marines during World War II. Wade's mother, Helen Wilson, hailed from Orange and had family there, so it was the most convenient place for Wade to enter the world.

To get to the roots of football coach Wade Phillips, drive west of Houston for about an hour, until you run plumb out of town. Take a left onto a narrow state farm road across from the only restaurant for miles. Weave through a few miles of ranch road, past herd after herd of grazing cattle. Go over the one-lane wooden bridge and follow the dirt road to the end. Finally, with three ranch dogs nipping at your feet, walk into the metal-roofed arena where the cutting horses are being trained. Now, this is Texas.

Here a portly man wearing a cowboy hat and sunglasses sits atop a sorrel horse. He's watching a rider teach a 3-year-old chestnut, how to isolate a calf from the herd and keep it separate for a few minutes. This is high-stakes stuff in Texas, and on this muggy morning the horse and his rider are practicing with a single confused calf. Because the calf doesn't have a herd, the chestnut always wins.

"You put the horse out here without the other cattle so he learns to succeed," says the man in the sunglasses. "You don't want him to fail. You want him to win. So you get him some confidence first."

Wade's father, Bum Phillips, 88, makes a pause, "You know," he adds, "it's like working with young players. Get 'em thinking too much, give 'em too much right away, and it confuses 'em. You've got to get 'em some confidence. You've got to train 'em right, teach 'em right. I've always said. You show me a good teacher and I'll show you a good coach. Coaching is not how much you know. It's how much you can get players to do."

Always On The Move

Looking back, what strikes Wade's mother, Helen, most about her son is how he never minded being a nomad. Not that he had much choice. The Phillips family got a new lesson in Texas geography almost every year, as Bum, then a high school and college coach, chased jobs from the Louisiana border to New Mexico. 'They moved from Beaumont to Nacogdoches to Nederland to College Station to Jacksonville to Amarillo to El Paso to Port Neches to Houston. "You grew up pretty fast in this family," says Helen. "Nothing ever seemed to bother Wade, not even the moves."

The most abrupt move of all came when Wade was in the ninth grade. The Phillips’s were living in Amarillo at the time, and he was going to a junior high school right down the street from his house. He was getting good grades. He was playing all the sports. He had his first girlfriend. One morning, the principal sent for him, and on his way to the office, Wade looked out the window and saw a moving van in his driveway. His father, he soon learned, had quit his position at Amarillo High to take the coaching job at UTEP. Within an hour, Wade was off to El Paso; without even getting a chance to say goodbye to his girl. But he didn't protest. No tears. No anger.

"When Daddy would ask if we wanted to go to the Dairy Queen, we wouldn't want to," says Wade, half in jest. "We'd be afraid if we got in that car he'd move us again."

Bum was boss, and no one questioned him. Not even the family dog, Joe. One day, Bum took Joe with him on a trip to water the high school field. He told Joe to sit, then watered the field and went home for dinner. Sometime after dinner, Wade asked, "Where's Joe?" and Bum got a sinking feeling. They hurried back to the field, and in the gathering dusk there was Joe - still sitting.

Wade idolized his father. Indeed, the only time Bum ever took a strap to Wade was when Wade was seven and tried to shave himself with a straight razor, just like Dad. Says Wade, "Wherever we lived, everyone in town loved Dad. I realized if I wanted to see much of him, I'd have to go down to the field house."

Thus began a youth of hanging around locker rooms absorbing football knowledge from his father and other coaches. Says Bum, "Wade wasn't allowed to talk. He was allowed to listen." So that's what he did. When Wade was in the fifth grade, Bum took him to the Gator Bowl, and he heard Bear Bryant, then head coach at Texas A&M, give a pre-game speech he still remembers clearly. Around that same time Wade, in his room late at night, would take 11 pennies and line them up in offensive formations and 11 nickels and line them up in defensive formations. He would figure ways for the pennies to beat the nickels, and ways for the nickels to stop the pennies.

By the time Wade was a senior at Port Neches-Groves High, he was a two-way starter at quarterback and linebacker under his father. Wade's standout games against rival Nederland impressed Neal Morgan, one of Nederland's assistants. Morgan had played for Bum at Nederland. He chuckles in memory of a 1952 visit to the Phillips home, with rambunctious little Wade -age 5- running around the house and climbing trees, barefooted and shirtless, wearing only tight skivvies.

High School Sweethearts

Wade's wife Laurie says she knew better than to date the star quarterback of Port Neches-Groves High. The year was 1964. She was head cheerleader. The quarterback's father, Bum, was Groves' head coach. Laurie knew all about the Phillipses and football because her uncle coached with Bum. Her daddy, Wesley "Stinky" Nunez, had played against Bum.

"I said I was never going to marry a football coach," Laurie says, "because they were never at home and they didn't make enough money." When Wade got a football scholarship to the University of Houston and Laurie enrolled at Lamar University in Beaumont, they exchanged letters but then lost contact for three years.

Houston Cougars

Bear Bryant offered Bum a scholarship to Alabama. Houston coach Bill Yeoman offered him a scholarship too. But Yeoman also hired Bum as defensive coordinator, so Wade naturally followed. Bum was so sensitive about being accused of favoritism that as Wade's sophomore season approached, he resisted the pleas of his staff to install Wade as a starting linebacker and kept him on the second team. But the coaches protested to Yeoman, who moved Wade to first string. He became a star. "I guess I was pretty hard on him," says Bum. "The kid he roomed with at Houston, Mike Simpson, told me that a few years ago. I had Mike as a free agent with the Oilers. When I cut him, he told me, 'If I was Wade, I could never have played for you:' I asked him why. He said, 'Because you were too hard on him.'"

Wade was a good athlete with a knack for anticipating what opposing offenses were going to do. But soon after Bum took an assistant coaching position with the San Diego Chargers, Wade realized his aspiration to play in the NFL was a pipe dream. Before his junior year at Houston, the 220-pound Wade visited the Chargers' training camp and saw 240-pound linebackers who were much faster than him.

Neal Morgan followed Wade's playing career at the University of Houston and his 1969 stint as an unpaid Cougars graduate assistant. Wade says Bum suggested he call Morgan, adding, "Might as well go someplace where they'll pay you." By 1970, Wade had graduated from the University of Houston and in need of a coaching job, Morgan was now the head coach at the old Orange Stark High School, so he hired Wade.

West Orange-Stark High School

Stark High School had lost some 30 football games in a row when Morgan took the job, but now he had an excellent coaching staff, and Wade.  Straight out of college, Wade knew an astounding amount of football and was a gigantic help on defense. His attitude was great and his approach to coaching reminded Morgan of Bum.

Wade Phillips, Curly Hallman, Dexter Bassinger and Andrew Hayes, helped Morgan win the first game that year— their first win in over three years — and their players were so happy as they walked home after the game they laughed and sang. It was a long year, but they did win three games.

Wade’s good nature and wonderful experience and background with his dad helped Morgan plan defenses, cope with student riots (it was early integration) and plow his way through that tough year.

That next spring, Bum came by the Stark field house and told Morgan: “Thanks for hiring Wade.”

Wade coached at Stark from 1970 to 1972.

Marriage

After graduating from Lamar University, Laurie found Wade's letters. She was engaged, and Wade "could have been married for all I knew." Still, she wrote to tell Wade she was moving to Houston.

"I started showing her around because I knew all about Houston," Wade says. "Then I started showing her around Houston every day and every night. "Finally, she called her fiancé and said, 'There's something wrong here. I'm enjoying spending time with this other guy.' "

Wade and Laurie were married two months later. "I'm prejudiced, but she's everything you want in a mom and a wife," Wade says.

Wade often says he was better off financially in Orange than at any other time of his life. The Phillipses had yet to have son Wesley or daughter Tracy, so Wade's $16,000-a-year salary, buttressed by Laurie's earnings as an elementary school teacher, went a long way. They lived in an apartment near the Orange town circle. "We bought our car and everything else with cash," Wade says. "Nowadays, I've got credit cards and mortgages and all that stuff."

Reuniting With Bum

In 1973 after his coaching job at Stark High School, Wade joined the Oklahoma State University staff coaching linebackers for two seasons where his father was defensive coordinator. Wade was then hired to coach the defensive line at Kansas State in 1975, his last season coaching in the college ranks.

 

Moving To The NFL

At age 28, Wade's professional coaching career began in Houston in 1976 as the linebackers coach again under his father. That first season he worked with Pro Bowlers like Bubba Smith, Elvin Bethea and Curley Culp, who were older than him. "I won't say we looked down on Wade," says Bethea, "but I will say we didn't have, shall we say, confidence in him. At times, we took full advantage of him."

One day in training camp, an exhausted Bethea paused during a drill and shouted at Bum, who was up in a coaching tower.

"You ought to be real proud of Wade," Bethea said sarcastically. "He's coaching his little butt off down here."

While working along side Bum, the Oilers introduced the 3-4 defense to the NFL. After one year as the linebackers coach, Wade moved to handling the defensive line responsibilities from 1977 to 1980. Hall of Fame defensive end Elvin Bethea was a three time Pro Bowl selection while working with Wade, while linebacker Robert Brazile earned four of his seven consecutive Pro Bowl selections from 1977 to 1980.

 

First Head-Coaching Job: New Orleans Saints 1985

When he became a New Orleans Saint in 1981, it was as if he didn't have a first name. Wade Phillips wasn't known as Wade. He was "Son of Bum." He arrived as part of a family package, for a franchise owned by John Mecom Jr., a franchise that became part of the NFL in 1967 and was still searching for its first winning season. The Saints had the NFL's worst-rated defense in 1980. Under Wade, from 1981 through '85, New Orleans finished among the five top-ranked teams three times. Wade Phillips was Bum Phillips' defensive coordinator. It's a position Wade held until there were four games remaining in the 1985 season. By that time, the Saints were still without a winning season.  However, Mecom had sold the team to Tom Benson. Bum had announced his resignation as head coach, and his son had been named interim head coach, the first time such a passing of the torch had taken place in the NFL.

Wade became the Saints' ninth head coach in 19 years. Obviously, he'll never forget the sadness on landing his first job as an NFL head coach, a son inheriting a challenge his father could not handle. But he'll also never forget the smiles that first game brought.

Wade Phillips had been handed a team with a 4-8 record, and it went out and destroyed the division-leading Los Angeles Rams, 29-3, with nine sacks, one interception, three fumbles, surrendering a mere 167 yards.

"This was," deadpanned a rookie head coach with a 1-0 record, "the biggest victory of my career."

On his way to the Superdome that morning, Wade ran into a stranger, the shoeshine man at the Hyatt Hotel.

"Used to shine Bum's boots every Sunday," the man said. "Guess I won't be shining 'em anymore."

"It gave me a sinking feeling," Wade said.

His Saints lost the next three, closing out a 5-11 season and the Phillips Family Era in the Big Easy.

Philadelphia Eagles: 1986-1988

Next, Wade landed the job as defensive coordinator of the Eagles. Working under Philadelphia's rookie coach, Buddy Ryan, who had been in charge of the Chicago Bears' Super Bowl-winning defense. Wade has said that his father and Ryan are the two biggest influences he's had in football. When he went to Philadelphia, he was stepping out of his father's shadow for the first time. He had spent the previous 12 years working as an assistant for Bum in Houston and New Orleans. Wade's eyes lit up when asked to reminisce about his Eagles tenure.

"Buddy Ryan, yeah," he said with a smile. "I've got a whole book on that. A whole chapter of the book anyway. Buddy was very aggressive. Defensive-minded. Very sharp on the 46 (defense) stuff, all defenses really. I enjoyed being around him. He was really a gifted mind as far as defense was concerned and hopefully I pulled some of those things from him.

"I've added some stuff from everybody I've been with. I went to Philadelphia to work with Buddy Ryan because his 46 was the hot defense at the time. I got an opportunity to learn Buddy's philosophy. We still use some things from that."

Even though Phillips now works exclusively with three-man fronts, he incorporates some of Ryan's principles, particularly in the area of pass rushing and how to break down pass protections.

A Defense Of His Own: Denver Broncos 1989-1992

Wade never felt as if the Eagles defense was really his. So when Broncos coach Dan Reeves offered him the same job in Denver, he took it. Reeves didn't know Wade but had followed his career. As a Cowboys assistant during the early 1970s, Mr. Reeves met Bum at a charity golf tournament in Houston. Their daughters became friends.

When Reeves interviewed for the head job at New England, he learned Bum had recommended him, even though they had never worked together. "Well, I just figured anybody who was a good family man like you were and so nice to my daughters had to be a good football coach," Bum explained when Mr. Reeves called to thank him.

For many of the same reasons, Reeves returned the favor and hired Wade in 1989. Reeves was revamping his staff. He wanted to elevate special teams coaches Charlie Waters and Mike Nolan to position coaches, even though Wade had never worked with them.

"It so happened that our staff was about to coach the Senior Bowl (an all-star game for college seniors)," Reeves recalled. "Wade said, 'Well, I can work with them and tell you.'

"We finish the first practice and we're walking off the field, and Wade said, 'They'll be fine.'"

For the first time Wade, who was then 42, was casting the shadow instead of living in it. As his mother said, "Now people have finally recognized Wade as his own man." In the previous four years, the Broncos, under defensive coordinator Joe Collier, had allowed 20.6 points a game and 4.3 yards a carry. They had made two Super Bowls in that span but had yielded 81 points and 1,001 yards in the two games, which they lost 39-20 to the New York Giants and 42-10 to the Washington Redskins. Reeves had to do something, so he fired Collier and hired Phillips.

"Joe Collier's defense was calculus," said Denver linebacker Karl Mecklenburg. "Wade's is algebra. Wade got the best players and let them play."

Denver Broncos Head-Coach: 1993-1994

Wade was named Denver's head coach on January 25, 1993 after serving as defensive coordinator the previous four seasons. In his first year as head coach, future Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway enjoyed the finest season of his career to that point with career-high figures for completions (348), percentage (.632), yardage (4,030) and his lowest single-season interception total (10). Wade led the 1993 Broncos to a playoff berth, but injuries decimated the club the following season which resulted in a 7-9 record - Wade's only season with a losing record in five years as a head coach. Wade was released by the club soon after the season finale and joined Buffalo as defensive coordinator shortly thereafter. The Broncos safety tandem of Steve Atwater and Dennis Smith combined for a total of eight Pro Bowl selections under Wade's watch in Denver, while defensive end Karl Mecklenburg earned four trips to Hawaii.

Buffalo Bills 1995-2000 And The Music City Mistake

In three seasons in Buffalo (1995-97) before he became head coach, Wade delivered solid returns as defensive coordinator. In 1996, Buffalo's defense allowed a league-low 22 touchdown passes and 3.4 yards-per-carry, while ranking fourth in sacks (48) and second in yards-per-play (4.3) and opponent completion percentage (.520). As the defensive coordinator and head coach with the Bills, Wade guided the stellar careers of future Pro Football Hall of Famers Bruce Smith and Thurman Thomas.

During the 1998-2000 seasons as head coach in Buffalo, the Bills compiled a regular season record of 29-19. Wade took the reigns after a disappointing 6-10 finish in 1997 and reversed the team's fortunes by leading it to a 10-6 record and the playoffs in 1998. It was the most successful campaign of any first-year head coach in Bills history. His 1999 team led the NFL in total defense, went 11-5 and earned another trip to the postseason.

The only trace of a frown flickers when Laurie Phillips is asked about that playoff game. It was a January 2000 loss by his Buffalo Bills to Tennessee on a disputed final-seconds kickoff return, dubbed the Music City Miracle.

"Are you talking about the Music City Mistake?" Laurie asks. "Yes, that was horrible. It was devastating. It was, 'Can't we just do it again? Can't we just take it back? Can't we fix it?'"

Wade insists today "doesn't have anything to do with me." Indeed, the stakes seem less personal to Wade than to Laurie and their two grown children. If only from a public-perception standpoint, Wade's 0-3 playoff record at that point was a thorn in the paw they would give anything to extract.

They say they can't help but feel that way because of the example he has set at home and on the field throughout his 13-stop, 35-year NFL coaching career.

The Bills finished 8-8 in 2000 - his last season in Buffalo. The Bills were 16-9 under Phillips in his three years at the helm after the start of November.

2001: Short Hiatus

For the first time in 25 years, Wade didn't have a coaching job in the NFL, which was a very unusual situation that he hadn't faced since he joined the Oilers in 1976. It was a time to rest and spend time with the family, watch sports and relax. Asked about what that year was like, Wade says: "I saw my son Wes play QB at UTEP his senior year that year".

However, Wade's reputation as one of the most brilliant defensive minds in the NFL wasn't going to allow the break last long. The following year he moved to Atlanta to resume his coaching career in the NFL as the defensive coordinator of the Falcons.

Atlanta Falcons 2002-2003

Wade's defense in Atlanta in 2002 mastered the big play. The team finished with 47 sacks, second-most in team history and tied for fourth in the NFL. They also had 39 takeaways - second in the league - including 24 interceptions - fourth in the league.

At the end of his two-year term as defensive coordinator in Atlanta, he served as the interim head coach for the Falcons final three games of the 2003 season after Dan Reeves was released from his contract on December 10. Phillips posted a record of 2-1 as Atlanta's head coach, highlighted by a 30-28 victory at Tampa Bay that knocked the defending Super Bowl champions out of playoff contention.

Wade has the distinction of having been replaced by a father and a son from two head coaching positions – by Jim Mora at the New Orleans Saints and by Jim Mora Jr. at the Atlanta Falcons. He also has twice replaced Dan Reeves as a head coach.

San Diego Chargers 2004-2006

After implementing his 3-4 defensive scheme, Wade directed a unit that improved each season, moving from 18th in the NFL in total defense in his first season to 13th in 2005 and then 10th in 2006. His 2005 unit was the NFL's stingiest against the run with a league leading average of 84.3 yards-per-game allowed on the ground. In his first year in San Diego, the Chargers were even stingier, allowing just 81.7 rushing yards-per-game to rank third in the league.

The Chargers aggressive defense also cranked out a league-high 61 sacks in 2006, the second-most in club history. It was the second straight year the defense had shown improvement in that category, going from 29 sacks in 2004 to 46 sacks in 2005 to the breakout year in 2006. Two-time Pro Bowl linebacker Shawne Merriman was the leader of that group, topping the NFL with 17 sacks that year.

When the Chargers won the AFC West and qualified for the playoffs in 2004 on the heels of a 4-12 season in 2003, Wade kept his streak intact of helping to turn teams with non-winning records into playoff participants the following year.

Dallas Cowboys 2007-201: Coaching America's Team

On Thursday, February 8, 2007, Wade Phillips sat inside Jerry Jones' Highland Park home for roughly an hour, noshing on tortilla soup, lobster tacos and hamburgers after a flight on a private jet from San Diego earlier in the morning.

Quietly, Wade and the Cowboys owner moved to a private room, where the two hammered out the final details of a contract that made Wade the seventh coach in franchise history.

Eighteen days after Bill Parcells surprised the organization with his resignation, an emotional Jones, who teared up as he did when Michael Irvin earned induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, had found his coach.

"We needed to get it right," Jones said, "and in my mind, we got it right."

The Cowboys interviewed 10 candidates, with talks taking nearly 90 hours to complete, but Jones' mind kept coming back to Wade, the first coach to meet with him who did not have a link to the team's present or past.

With a team that made the playoffs in 2006 and acquired players specifically for its 3-4 defensive scheme, Jones felt Wade' defensive background and his 48-39 regular-season record as a head coach in four stops was the correct choice over former Cowboys offensive coordinator Norv Turner.

"You ever read about the frog who dreamed of being king and became one?" said Wade, who signed a three-year contract with an option for a fourth, averaging about $3 million a year. "Well, I was a high school coach in Texas, and now I'm head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, so my story is the same way."

In the 2007 NFL Playoffs, Wade led the Cowboys to another playoff loss, making his playoff record 0–4. The Cowboys failed to make the playoffs in 2008, as the season ended with a 44–6 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, preventing a wild card playoff berth.

Prior to the 2009 season, Wade also took over as defensive coordinator, replacing the fired Brian Stewart. Wade called defensive plays for the final 10 games of the 2008 season after Stewart was stripped of the responsibilities. In the 2009-10 playoffs, Wade's Cowboys defeated the Eagles in the wild card round, ending the club's 12 year playoff win drought (6 games total, Wade was only coach for one of those losses) and earning Wade his first playoff win.

On January 21, 2010, Wade signed a contract extension through the 2011 season. However, he was fired by the Cowboys on November 8, 2010 following the second worst start in franchise history (one win in their first eight games) punctuated by a 45–7 loss to the Green Bay Packers.

His overall record with the Cowboys was 35-24.

In his final statement as the Dallas Cowboys Head Coach, Wade wrote: "I am disappointed in the results of this season to this point, but I am also very proud of what our team and our players accomplished in the previous three years. In good times and difficult times, our players stuck together and never lost hold of their belief in each other and the strong team bond that they have shared. Family and coaching football have always defined my life and I will always be grateful for my experiences here with the Dallas Cowboys."

Back In Houston

Wade was named Texans defensive coordinator on January 5, 2011. Wade Phillips doesn’t expect to be a head coach again, and that’s fine. He’s happy to finally be working close to where he grew up. "It’s perception, sometimes, more than reality," Wade said. "I’ve won a lot of games in this league and I have a really high winning percentage. I don’t see me being a head coach again, because of the perception overall. When you get fired, it’s usually, ’Hey, he was fired because he can’t win,"’ Phillips said. "It wasn’t ’cause I couldn’t win. I couldn’t win enough."

"Houston is special to me," Wade continues. "My first NFL coaching job was here. At that time, when we were in the playoffs every year and going to the AFC championship. I thought I was a great coach and that we’d be here the whole time. It didn’t work out that way. I went 360 (degrees) and came back and ended right where I wanted to be. And that’s here."

Phillips earned recognition as the PFW/PFWA Assistant Coach of the Year in 2011 after the Texans’ defense finished second in the NFL with 285.7 yards allowed per game. Phillips installed a 3-4 scheme that yielded the third-largest single-year improvement since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger, flipping a unit that gave up 379.6 yards per game and ranked 31st in the NFL in 2010.

Houston allowed the fourth-fewest points in the league in 2011 (compared to fourth most in 2010) the second-fewest yards allowed (third-most in 2010) and third-fewest yards per play (4.8, compared to 6.0, second-worst in 2010).

On Jan. 27, 2012, he was also named Sporting News 2011 NFL Coordinator of the Year.

In his second season, the 2012 Texans defense, led by Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, ranked in the League’s top ten in total defense, rushing defense, scoring defense, sacks and third-down defense. The second-year defensive end put together what Phillips called simply the “best season ever,” leading the NFL with 20.5 sacks, batting down 16 passes, forcing four fumbles and recovering two en route to becoming the franchise’s first-ever player of the year award winner.

On November 3, 2013, Texans Head Coach Gary Kubiak collapsed at the end of the first half of the Texans-Colts game, he was then hospitalized at a local hospital. In Kubiak's absence, Phillips was given the head coaching duties as the acting head coach for the remainder of the game. On November 6, 2013, the Texans, and Kubiak decided to temporarily hand Phillips the head coaching duties, and named him the interim head coach until Kubiak was medically cleared to return. Exactly one month later, Kubiak was fired after his team had lost 11 games in a row. Once again, Phillips served as interim head coach for the Texans until the end of the season.

A Family Man

As Laurie suspected four decades ago, Wade has been gone a lot. But he makes up for it in ways besides his NFL salary.

When he was the defensive line coach at the University of Kansas in 1975, he was a "golfaholic." Laurie mentioned that she was home with baby Tracy every weekend while Wade played. Message received. Wade became an occasional golfer.

He gave up the sport when Tracy started performing in recitals at age 3. Later, he attended as many of younger child Wes' youth and high school games as possible.

"I always remember him being there when things were important," says Tracy, who lives in Hollywood and played a belly dancer in the movie Charlie Wilson's War.

When the kids were young, Wade and Laurie started a Friday date-night tradition. Typically, they go to dinner or a movie.

In New Orleans in the early 1980s, Laurie coaxed Wade into a country and Western dance class. He earned a plaque for most improved. At the Cowboys' Christmas party, they turned heads with their dancing.

"He even goes to chick flicks with me," she says with a laugh. "And then he gets in there and gripes, 'I'm probably the only guy in here.' "

The coach earns no husband points, however, for household repairs. Let's just say there is no chance of him fixing that busted doorbell in their previous home.

I'm not a Mr. Fixit around the house, for sure," Wade says. "I can't do plumbing or electrical or none of that stuff."

Mr. Nice Guy

"I don't know anybody who doesn't like Wade Phillips," says former NFL coach Dan Reeves. "He makes everyone around him comfortable, from the owner right down to the janitor."

"The old stereotype is that you've got to get in a guy's face to get the most out of him," Wade says. "I've always believed that good guys, or nice guys, can finish first."

"He's the most likable coach in the NFL," said Charlie Waters, who remained on the Broncos' staff when Wade succeeded Dan Reeves in 1993. "People love to work and play for Wade. He has high expectations, but he cuts through the mess. There's a lot of common sense working there with Wade."

By Wade's definition, football teams are much like families. The Phillips coaching family is his blueprint. "You like for them to care about each other like you do in a family," he says, "and take up for each other. What family means is trust, loyalty and common purpose."

Wade is a patient communicator. "When I was growing up, people thought bitching was coaching," says Wade. "But players eventually turn off the guys who yell and scream. My father once told me, 'Don't coach the way you were coached. Coach the way you are.' I don't believe in coaching by fear. I believe in coaching by teaching."

When asked if he as any advice for the boy, Bum Phillips works his chaw and laughs. "Wade knows everything I know, plus everything he's learned from everybody else," he says. "Hell, if I knew anything to tell him, I'd already have told him."

 

 

 
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