NASHVILLE – The Titans are adding three new members to the franchise's Ring of Honor – former head coaches O.A. "Bum" Phillips and Jeff Fisher, and former General Manager Floyd Reese.
It's prestigious recognition for three men who made lasting marks during their time with the Titans/Oilers franchise, and all three will be honored at induction ceremonies this fall at Nissan Stadium because of it. Phillips, Fisher and Reese will join 14 other legends who have already been recognized by the organization.
The origins of the Ring of Honor started with a team Hall of Fame induction in 1999, the first year of the stadium, when seven initial members had their names displayed inside the seating bowl. Over the years, the organization added to the list of legends, with K.S. "Bud" Adams, Jr., Elvin Bethea, George Blanda, Robert Brazile, Earl Campbell, Eddie George, Mike Holovak, Ken Houston, Bruce Matthews, Steve McNair, Warren Moon, Mike Munchak, Jim Norton and Frank Wycheck all being recognized.
Now, Phillips, Fisher and Reese are set to join them.
Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk informed Fisher, Reese and the family of the late Bum Phillips of the news.
"I am so excited to recognize these important figures in our team's history," Adams Strunk said. "Each had a significant hand in the success of their eras. Bum was Texas through and through and led us to new heights as the 'Luv Ya Blue' era was born, reaching two AFC Championship games.
"Jeff won more games than any coach in franchise history, while also leading our football team through some difficult years as we moved to Tennessee - playing in four different home stadiums over a four-year period. His ability to connect with our players and our fans was unmatched and he too reached two AFC Championship games and helped take us to our only Super Bowl.
"Floyd was a great position coach for us during our run of success during the Run 'n Shoot years and then transitioned to the front office, where he found even greater success. He had a great ability to find talent and take 'chances' to find sustained success – hiring a first-time head coach in Jeff Fisher; selecting a Division I-AA quarterback, Steve McNair, in the top five of the draft; converting a first-round linebacker, Jevon Kearse, to defensive end; claiming a little used tight end, Frank Wycheck, from Washington; and trading down, then up to grab a Heisman-trophy-winning running back, Eddie George."
O.A. "Bum" Phillips will be inducted in the Tennessee Titan's Ring of Honor. Phillips was the personification of the 'Luv Ya Blue Era' as the head coach of the Oilers for six seasons (1975-80). He owns the best winning percentage (.608) by a Titans/Oilers head coach who has coached at least two full seasons, totaling a 59-38 mark. He took over a team that hadn't experienced a winning season in eight campaigns and built it into a contender for the duration of his tenure, going 10-4 in his first season and reaching the AFC Championship game in 1978 and 1979. He originally joined the Oilers as the team's defensive coordinator in 1974 and was elevated to head coach a year later. (AP Images)
Sporting his trademark cowboy hat, Phillips was the personification of the 'Luv Ya Blue Era' as the head coach of the Oilers for six seasons (1975-80). He owns the best winning percentage (.608) by a Titans/Oilers head coach who has coached at least two full seasons, totaling a 59-38 mark.
Phillips guided an impressive turnaround. He took over a team that hadn't experienced a winning season in eight campaigns and built it into a contender for the duration of his tenure, going 10-4 in his first season and reaching the AFC Championship game in 1978 and 1979. He originally joined the Oilers as the team's defensive coordinator in 1974 and was elevated to head coach a year later.
"We're just deeply honored, certainly as a family, but especially for my dad," said Bum's son, Wade Phillips. "Obviously, it's a special meaning to our family. We all thought so much of our dad, and of course the times that he was coaching for the Oilers were just special times for all of us. We're just deeply honored. … My sisters, when Amy called, all cried. That's how much it means.
"It's a great thing that Amy has done for us and the Oilers, keeping the Oilers alive. She's done things down here in Houston, and this honors all the Oilers teams really, not just my dad, but all the Oiler teams. We can't thank her enough. Dad was so proud of his teams, and coaching for Bud Adams, and being with that organization and then it's carried on in Tennessee."
Jeff Fisher will be inducted in the Tennessee Titan's Ring of Honor. Fisher is the winningest coach in franchise history, amassing 147 wins (142 regular season/5 postseason) from 1994-2010 and the team's only Super Bowl appearance following the 1999 season. In 16 full seasons at the helm, he only had five losing records and he is the only head coach in franchise history to win 13 games in a season, a mark he reached three times (1999, 2000, 2008). From 1999 to 2003, the Titans 61 wins in the regular season and playoffs tied the St. Louis Rams for the most in the NFL. Hallmarks of a Jeff Fisher team included a strong run game and an attacking defense. (AP Images)
Fisher's time with the franchise began in Houston, but he really made his mark in Nashville, with the Titans.
Fisher, the winningest coach in franchise history, tallied 147 wins (142 regular season/5 postseason) from 1994-2010 and he guided the franchise to its only Super Bowl appearance following the 1999 season. In 16 full seasons at the helm, Fisher only had four losing records. He's the only head coach in franchise history to win 13 games in a season, a mark he reached three times (1999, 2000, 2008). From 1999 to 2003, the Titans 61 wins in the regular season and playoffs tied the St. Louis Rams for the most in the NFL.
Under Fisher, Eddie George would become the franchise's all-time leading rusher and the team's defense in 2000 ranked first in yards allowed for the only time since the NFL/AFL merger (1970). From 1995 to 2010, Fisher's teams ranked sixth in the NFL in rushing offense (123.0 yards/game) and fourth in rushing defense (101.0).
As the team moved from Houston to Tennessee in 1997, Fisher took on the unofficial role of ambassador and salesman for NFL football to new fans. Fisher originally joined the Oilers in 1994 as defensive coordinator, before being elevated to interim head coach by Reese with six games remaining.
Last year, Fisher was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame.
"Oftentimes, for whatever reason, long careers run their course and come to an end, and (as) you enter a different stage of life, you have plenty of time to reflect on what was accomplished personally and professionally and so on and so forth," Fisher said. "Certainly, over the last couple of years I've had that opportunity. We've made Nashville – it's always been our home. The whole Titans family has remained very, very close to us. Our affection for the organization has never wavered. To be in a position where I took a call from Amy and shared the conversation with her regarding the organization's intention to put me into the Ring of Honor was just extraordinary. It was an emotional moment for me because it was a reminder of everything that the organization has done for me and my family over the years, and that it's just not surprising that they keep doing more things for me. It's just really special. Football coaches are never overwhelmed emotionally, but it was a special moment – the conversation I had with Amy regarding this. I think back to 1994, I had six games as an interim head coach, it was Floyd Reese and Bud Adams that believed in me and gave me that opportunity. From that day on to present day, I'm forever grateful and indebted to them for the opportunity. Twenty-plus years as a head coach in the National Football League doesn't happen. It's rare. I have no regrets. I owe everything to the Adams family because they gave me that opportunity. We've made Nashville – it's always been our home. The whole Titans family has remained very, very close to us. Our affection for the organization has never wavered.
"(Amy) mentioned that Bum Phillips is going to go in, in addition to Floyd Reese," Fisher continued. "I was so excited to hear about both of them because you're talking about different eras. You're talking about – even though we were the Oilers and became the Titans, Bum had – he paved the way for us in Houston but didn't really get to share in the Titan experience. But Floyd and I both did, we overlapped both eras. To bring the Oilers to Nashville, to have the success that we did, none of it would've been possible without Floyd. Just really, really excited. A lot of work went into what we accomplished, and we worked hard together. I think it's fitting that both Bum – and I'm honored to be a part of this group, I should say. Just to be mentioned with Bum and there with Floyd. Floyd behind the scenes did so much for this organization. The head coach gets the credit, the head coach gets fired when they don't win, the GM, the general managers just work. It's what they do, they just work. Without all Floyd's hard work, his vision and everything over the years, those years leading up to the '99 season, and then our effort to sustain was pretty impressive. We had a five-year span where nobody won more games in the league than we did."
Floyd Reese will be inducted in the Tennessee Titan's Ring of Honor. Reese had a 21-year run (1986-2006) with the Oilers/Titans as a coach and executive and is the winningest general manager in franchise history. In his tenure with the organization, the team advanced to the playoffs 11 times. As General Manager (1994-2006), he tallied 111 wins (106 regular season/5 postseason) and the Titans advanced to two AFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl (XXXIV). (AP Images)
Reese was the architect of one of the most successful runs in team history, and his vision helped pave the way for a memorable run of success.
Reese had a 21-year run (1986-2006) with the Oilers/Titans as a coach and executive and is the winningest general manager in franchise history. In his tenure with the organization, the team advanced to the playoffs 11 times. As General Manager (1994-2006), he tallied 111 wins (106 regular season/5 postseason) and the Titans advanced to two AFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl (XXXIV).
One of his first big decisions as general manager was to hire Fisher as head coach. As a talent evaluator, he collected some of the franchise's great ones - QB Steve McNair, RB Eddie George, TE Frank Wycheck, DE Jevon Kearse, WR Derrick Mason, LB Keith Bulluck, DE Kyle Vanden Bosch, DL, C Kevin Mawae, P Craig Hentrich, DT Albert Haynesworth and QB Vince Young. That grouping of players would collect 27 Pro Bowl honors, three Rookies of the Year (George/Kearse/Young) and one AP Co-MVP (McNair in 2003) for the club. Reese originally joined the club in 1986 as a linebacker coach for the Oilers and following four seasons in that role, he was named Assistant General Manager (1990-93) under Mike Holovak.
"First of all, it was a real treat to get to talk to (Amy) again," Reese said. "I think the way she explained it … this is one of the highest, if not the highest honor, that we could bestow on somebody that's not in the NFL Hall of Fame. And so that kind of makes you realize that this is special. I know it's special too because I think there was – there's been so much time and effort that we put in – not just me, but … Jeff, and everybody involved, I mean, for years and years and years. To have this come true for me was a special treat."
Reese said it's special to go into the Ring of Honor the same year as Phillips, and Fisher.
"It's interesting, because of course when we were in Houston, Bum was the guy," Reese said. "He … won so many games and had such success. And then to turn right around and we go to Nashville, and Jeff's the guy, and Jeff is doing the same kind of stuff. It's really an honor to go in with two guys that you were able to watch do their work, understand the kind of crafts and effort they put into it, and see their success, and then have them kind of drag you along. It's nice."
Phillips will be inducted into the Ring of Honor at Nissan Stadium on September 26th, during a game against the Colts that will serve as the highlight to an Oilers Homecoming week. Fisher and Reese will be honored together at another game that is still to be determined.
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