Bum Phillips with George Rodgers | Early 1980s New Orleans Saints

Bum Phillips and George Rogers - Early 1980s, New Orleans Saints
Head Coach Bum Phillips and Saints power-back George Rogers

From the early 1980s – Head Coach Bum Phillips who took over in 1981 – talks with Saints runningback George Rogers. Rogers, the 1980 Heisman Trophy Award winner South Carolina, from was the first player Bum drafted after he took over the Saints. And while the Saints still struggled at times it was obvious that as a team there was a marked improvement from the seasons of losing that had plagued them the previous decade.
As a rookie in 1981, Rogers led the NFL in rushing with 1674 yards and earned Rookie of the Year Honors. He stayed with the Saints 4 seasons and despite a history of drug problems, departed the team in 1984 as the team’s All-Time Leading rusher with 4267 yards. In 1981 and 1982 he was name to the NFC Pro Bowl squad. He played 3 more seasons in Washington before leaving the NFL altogether in 1987. Without a doubt, excessive drug use throughout his playing days limited his effectiveness.
As far as Bum was concerned, he was a favorite among the players as well as the fans. Unfortunately, he just could not reproduce the success he had with the Houston Oilers He will always be remembered for the 1983 season where the Saints missed going to the playoffs thanks to a last second fieldgoal by the Rams during the final game of the season. He could but manage only 27 wins in his 4-and-a-half seasons with New Orleans. He resigned midway through the 1985 campaign saying, “It just wasn’t fun anymore”. He was replaced by his son, Wade Phillips who was defensive coordinator at the time.
And while Bum’s time in New Orleans could hardly be considered successful, he is credited with laying the groundwork for a Saint’s defense that would be one of the NFL’s most dominate just a few years later.

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