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From NFL to UFL: Wade Phillips Continues Coaching Legacy

If you have watched NFL football for the last forty years, you may have heard the last name Phillips on occasion. Long-time defensive coach Bum Phillips was revolutionary as a defensive innovator and was one of the best in the 3-4 defensive scheme department. His son, Wade, took his father’s knowledge and made a lengthy NFL career, coaching many super star athletes along the way.

Wade Phillips is considered one of the primer NFL defensive coordinators within the last twenty years. He compiled an 89-67 regular season record in the NFL, but his Achilles heel was his 1-6 postseason record, winning his only playoff game in 2009 with the Dallas Cowboys.

While Phillips’ postseason record was not the greatest, his impact on younger coaches and players should not go unnoticed. In 2017 when Sean McVay became the youngest NFL coach in the history of the league, Phillips was hired to be his defensive coordinator. The result was an impressive three season stint in which the organization won 35 games and lost 17 (playoffs included).

After a disappointing 9-7 record in 2019 and failing to make the playoffs, McVay parted ways with Phillips and he was a free agent coach once again. This would be his last stint in the National Football League as of right now but he has found a new league that he and his team are succeeding in – the UFL.

The UFL is a merger between the XFL and the USFL and was approved in November 2023. This is a spring league for former NFL players and/or college athletes who have not made an NFL roster to compete and showcase their skills. The UFL has been touted as a success from multiple media outlets and coaches and is a nice bridge to help players and coaches reach their goals and aspirations.

For Phillips, the UFL has been extremely kind for him. His team, the San Antonio Brahmas, currently just won on Saturday, May 25th against the Birmingham Stallions, an organization who was on a 15 game win streak. Phillips’ coaching staff, players, and his wisdom and knowledge, just beat a football team who is red hot and won back-to-back Championships.

Even though Phillips is no longer in the NFL, his impact on the players and coaches in the UFL is extremely helpful and inspiring. The players are not only having fun, they are learning key concepts that NFL teams teach, preparing them for when their name is called in the coming months to join a training camp or become a practice squad player.

The Phillips name in the NFL is still continuing with Wade’s son Wes, who is currently the offensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. While his father was an NFL defensive mastermind, Wes has taken the opposite approach and has been an offensive coach for the majority of his career.

Ultimately, Wade Phillips continuing his coaching legacy in the UFL has made me not only made me appreciate his time and dedication to the sport we all know and love, but it also gives me and others a chance to honor his legacy and impact on the athletes and coaches over the years. He has certainly been a bright spot in the lives of many and even though his time is slowly coming to an end, he is on the brink of a UFL Championship, which will only add to his coaching resume.


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