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The Deer Park Community

Phillips brings Luv Ya Blue! days back to Deer Park

Written by Bobby Vasquez. Posted in Community

Houston’s love affair with the Oilers was a story for the ages. Susan Phillips, daughter of the team’s legendary Head Coach Bum Phillips, recently talked about the Luv Ya Blue! days from inside her father’s mind and heart at the Deer Park Public Library.

SusanPhillipsFrom the roaring Astrodome to televisions across the city, Houstonians loved the blue-collar Oilers football team and their head coach Bum Phillips. Phillips daughter Susan spoke to Deer Park residents about her father and his team's passion for the fans they played for. Photo by Bobby Vasquez.Dallas had America’s Team. But in Houston, football fans gravitated toward a blue-collar team that represented the hard-working oilmen and refinery records that bore their namesake. Leading that group was a humble cowboy from Nederland who just years prior was a 7B football coach.

Houston loved the Houston Oilers, and according to Susan Phillips, the Oilers loved Houston right back.

Phillips, the daughter of the colorful head coach Bum Phillips, recently visited the Deer Park Public Library to talk about her father’s special connection that still binds Houston to Oilers to this day.

“That whole era was phenomenal,” Phillips said. “Luv Ya Blue was a movement by fans. The way the community loved the Oilers was special and those guys loved Houston. They played for Houston. They bonded with the city of Houston. There was real love between my father and the men who played for him and the city they played in. It spread like wildfire.”

With stars like Earl Campbell, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, Elvin Bethea and Dan Pastorini, Phillips and the Oilers went from the bottom of the standings in the AFC Central to Super Bowl contenders.

The team was also filled with players who were just looking for a chance to play the game.

“It wasn’t just the stars. Most of the players on the team couldn’t have played anywhere else. No one would take them. Dad took guys from smaller colleges. Some were ice cream truck drivers or cement truck drivers,” Phillips said. “But they all had heart. They all wanted to win.”

Even though Oilers were never able to “kick the door down” in Pittsburgh to the Super Bowl, they were revered by their fans

With the Houston Oilers fight song blaring in the background, Phillips showed footage of rallies where throngs of fans filled the Astrodome.

“They lost two years in a row to the Steelers in the AFC Championship Game. No one expected anyone to show up at these welcome home celebrations because they didn’t win,” she said.

Her brother Wade, now the defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams, was a coach on those Oilers teams.

“He cried, the players cried, the coaches cried,” she said. “The love was overwhelming. They felt like it was undeserved.”

Phillips said her father fostered that love toward his players, earning their trust, respect and admiration.

“He’d have days where all the players could bring their kids and families to practice. Even the family dogs were invited. He’d have days where he would hire an ice cream truck to come in,” she said “That’s the kind of atmosphere he created.”

The days of Luv Ya Blue! are long gone. The Oilers left town and became the Tennessee Titans while Houstonians now cheer for the Houston Texans. Nevertheless, that period of Houston history in the late 1970s remains special, not just for Phillips, but for many Houstonians as well.

“I got to experience it through my family, but it’s amazing to hear stories from the fans about their interactions and what they got to see and experience. They loved the Oilers. They loved my dad and that love meant something to them because the Oilers and my dad loved Houston right back,” said Phillips.