The Tennessee Titans are adding three members to their Ring of Honor this fall.
Former coaches O.A. "Bum" Phillips and Jeff Fisher and former general manager Floyd Reese will join the 14 other legends of Titans and Oilers lore this fall, the team announced Wednesday.
"I am so excited to recognize these important figures in our team's history," said Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk, via the team's website. "Each had a significant hand in the success of their eras."
Phillips put the Houston Oilers on the map during his six seasons as head coach from 1975-1980. With his trademark cowboy hat and boots, Phillips took over a team that hadn't seen a winning season in eight years and built the Oilers into a contender, starting with his 10-4 record in his first year. Phillips led the Oilers to consecutive AFC Championship games in 1978 and '79, and his 59-38 record is the highest winning percentage by any coach (of at least two seasons) in the franchise's history. Phillips passed away on October 18, 2013.
"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."
Reese had a 21-year run with the Titans and Oilers starting in 1986, and is the winningest general manager in franchise history with 111 total wins from 1994 to 2006. A coach turned GM, Reese's first big decision was hiring Fisher as head coach in 1994 and he shined as the team's talent evaluator. Reese was responsible for bringing in Titans legends like quarterback Steve McNair, running back Eddie George, tight end Frank Wycheck, defensive end Jevon Kearse, wide receiver Derrick Mason, linebacker Keith Bulluck, center Kevin Mawae, punter Craig Hentrich, defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and QB Vince Young. The Titans saw two AFC Championship Games and one Super Bowl (XXXIV) under Reese as GM.
"First of all, it was a real treat to get to talk to (Amy) again," said Reese, who will be appropriately inducted on the same day as Fisher. "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."
Fisher's tenure began in Houston but his legacy was made in Nashville with the Titans. Succeeding Reese in 1994, Fisher's 147 total wins as coach are the most in the franchise's history and he led them to their only Super Bowl appearance in the 1999 season. In 16 seasons from 1994-2010 Fisher had only four losing seasons and he's the only coach in franchise history to win 13 games in a season, which he accomplished three times.
"To be in a position where I took a call from Amy (Adams Strunk), and shared the conversation with her regarding the organization's intention to put me into the Ring of Honor was just extraordinary," said Fisher. "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. It's just really special. Football coaches are never overwhelmed emotionally, but it was a special moment. 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."
Phillips, Fisher and Reese will join K.S. "Bud" Adams, Jr., Elvin Bethea, George Blanda, Robert Brazile, Earl Campbell, George, Mike Holovak, Ken Houston, Bruce Matthews, McNair, Warren Moon, Mike Munchak, Jim Norton and Wycheck in the Titans Ring of Honor at Nissan Stadium.
Phillips will be inducted on September 26th, during a game against the Indianapolis Colts that will befittingly feature an Oilers Homecoming week. Fisher and Reese will be honored together at another game to be determined.