Saturday, 16 June 2012
1979 Houston Oilers, "Luv Ya Blue": Bum Phillips Builds a Winner in Houston
Before Bum Phillips came to Houston in 1975 to be the Oilers Head Coach/General Manger, the Oilers were down. Having not had a winning season since the 1960s, when they did have some good teams but they did already have some talent. Like QB Dan Pastorini, C Karl Mauch, WR Ken Borough, WR Billy Johnson, DE Elvin Bethea and some others but as Bum Phillips said the Oilers had players but they weren't a team. He built the Oilers into a team and that they had three straight winning seasons from 1975-77. And would've made the AFC Playoffs in each of those seasons, had they not of been in the same division as the Pittsburgh Steelers. And had the NFL back then had five Wild Card teams in the Playoffs in each Conference, finally made the AFC Playoffs in 1978-80, back to back AFC Finals in 78 and 79. And the Oilers were very solid on both sides of the ball, both tough and physical and would run you over and when they drafted RB Earl Campbell in 1978, they now had explosion in the running game as with WR Ken Borough, explosion in the passing game as well.
You don't have to be a huge NFL Fan as far as how much you love that league, to appreciate the game of the mid and late 1970s. When you had all on this explosion of talent coming into the league, the 1974 Pittsburgh Steelers draft, where they drafted like six future Hall of Famers. Is a pretty good example of that, the players that came into the league from 1974-79, are excellent examples of this. And the Houston Oilers of this era are excellent examples of this, where both the AFC and NFC each year, had 3-4 teams that had excellent shots of not only winning their Conference but winning the Super Bowl. With the Pittsburgh Steelers, Oakland Raiders, Miami Dolphins, Houston Oilers, Cleveland Browns and San Diego Chargers later on in the AFC alone. And even the Cincinnati Bengals of the 1970s had very good teams as well in the 1970s but played in the best division in the NFL, the AFC Central.
The Oilers of this era never really had a great team, someone who was going to beat the Oakland Raiders, Pittsburgh Steelers or Dallas Cowboys. To play and win the Super Bowl but they were in that next group, the wannabes and I put that in nicest way possible, a collection of teams year after year. That wanted to be Champions but kept coming up a little short, as well as I believe playing in the best era the NFL has ever seen in the 1970s.