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Wade Phillips

Born: June 21, 1947                              Groves,  Texas

Wade Phillips is the son of legendary Texas coach "Bum" Phillips. Asked if his hometown was Groves or Port Neches, Wade answered that he lived in both. He attended Port Neches-Groves High School in Port Neches, Texas, and played quarterback on offense for his father "Bum" Phillips, who was the head coach. His wife, Laurie, who he began dating in high school, was the head cheerleader.


In 1965 Bum was hired as the defensive coordinator of the University of Houston. Wade followed him there and was a three-year starter at linebacker. He set a career record for tackle assists that held until 2011. Phillips began his coaching career at his alma mater in 1969, moving to Oklahoma State in 1973 and Kansas in 1975.


Phillips's first pro-football coaching job was on his father's coaching staff with the Houston Oilers. Phillips spent five seasons with the Oilers from 1976 to 1980.


He served as the defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints from 1981 to 1985 and Philadelphia from 1986 to 1988. Phillips then moved to the Denver Broncos. Under his leadership, the Broncos' defense led the AFC in the fewest points allowed one year, and the Broncos played in Super Bowl XXIV, losing to the San Francisco 49ers.


Wade moved to the Buffalo Bills as defensive coordinator from 1995 – 1997 and became the head coach from 1998 - 2000. During this time, the team had 29 wins and two playoff appearances.


In 2007, Phillips was hired as the head coach of the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys promptly made the playoffs both of the first two seasons with Phillips as the head coach. Establishing a trend that would become all too familiar to Cowboy fans over the next 12 years, Jason Garrett's offense generated 3 points in the 2008 playoff game loss. Their playoff win over the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2009 wildcard game ended a dismal 12-year playoff win drought. The longest such streak ever for Dallas. Despite rewarding Phillips with a 2-year extension after the 2009 season, he was released by the Cowboys and replaced with Jason Garrett after a poor third-season start. It would take the Cowboys nine more years to win just two playoff games, and they are still looking for their third.


Wade was snapped up by the Houston Texans as defensive coordinator, and, in typical Phillips fashion, he instantly transformed the defense into one of the best in the league.


He returned to the Broncos as a defensive coordinator in 2015, reuniting with Gary Kubiak. His go-after-the-ball schemes once again transformed Denver's defense into number one in the league. In Super Bowl 50, Denver's top-ranked defense matched up with the number one offense of the Carolina Panthers. Denver shut down Carolina's offense with a 24-10 victory, giving Phillips his first Super Bowl win.


After a successful stint with the Denver Broncos, Phillips left to become defensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Rams. Again, virtually overnight, Phillips was able to create a competitive defense. In only his second season with the Rams, they reached Super Bowl, and despite holding a Tom Brady-led New England Patriots offense to only 13 points, the Rams lost the game 13-3. 


Counting interim stints, Wade Phillips has been the head coach for more NFL teams (6) than any other person. Multiple players under Phillips' system have won Defensive Player of the Year. They include Reggie White, Bryce Paup, Bruce Smith, J.J. Watt, and Aaron Donald. Two players have won Defensive Rookie of the year, Mike Croel and Shawne Merriman.


After Denver's Super Bowl win Wade was awarded the National Football League Assistant Coach of the Year Award that is presented annually by the Associated Press to the top assistant coach in the NFL. His Super Bowl-winning defense with Denver is ranked as the 9th best defensive unit of all time. A Super Bowl 50 trophy donated by the Phillips can be viewed at the Museum of the Gulf Coast. He is enshrined next to his father here at the Museum.

Phillips came out of retirement in 2022 to coach the Houston Roughnecks to a 7-3 record in the XFL's first season. The roughnecks lost their playoff game to Arlington, TX for the South Division Championship. After a merger of the XFL and UFL (United Football League) Phillips agreed to take the San Antonio Head Coaching job. He led the Brahmas to an 8–3 record in 2024. The team had one of the UFL's top defenses, allowing a League-best 15.3 points per game. San Antonio reached the UFL Championship where they lost against the Birmingham Stallions.


Wade Phillips and his wife Laurie reside in Houston. He regularly attends the presentation of the Bum Phillips award, given out yearly at the Museum of the Gulf Coast to the Southeast Texas high school football Coach of the year. 

Interview at The Museum of the Gulf Coast

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