Titans and Hall of Famers to honor the late Bum Phillips
New York Jets coach Robert Saleh speaks to reporters at the team’s facility in Florham Park, N.J., on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, wearing a Mepham High School T-shirt. Saleh wore the shirt in recognition of Sofia LaSpina (Mepham Wide Receiver) who became the first woman to score a touchdown on Long Island varsity football. (AP Photo/Dennis Waszak Jr.)
New York Jets coach Robert Saleh speaks to reporters at the team’s facility in Florham Park, N.J., on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021, wearing a Mepham High School T-shirt. Saleh wore the shirt in recognition of Sofia LaSpina (Mepham High School wide receiver) who became the first woman to score a touchdown in Long Island’s varsity football history. (AP Photo/Dennis Waszak Jr.)
The late Bum Phillips, a Texas coaching legend who worked wearing a cowboy hat, is being honored by the team he led to two AFC championship game appearances. In Tennessee. This is a quarter century after the franchise moved from Texas to Music City.
The franchise now known as the Tennessee Titans will be inducting Phillips into the Ring of Honor on Sunday 41 years after he last coached for the then-Houston Oilers, and the occasion is bringing a bunch of former Oilers to Nashville to help celebrate the franchise founded in Texas in 1960 by the late Bud Adams.
Warren Moon, Billy “White Shoes” Johnson, Robert Brazile, Elvin Bethea, Charlie Joiner, Ken Houston, Kenny Burrough, Ray Childress and Dan Pastorini are among approximately 80 former Oilers expected for a weekend of activities. Houston, Brazile and Moon are all Pro Football Hall of Famer.
Former Oilers will have dinner with Titans controlling shareholder Amy Adams Strunk. They will be watching the current team practice and then having brunch before they take on Indianapolis. The former Oilers also will serve as the honorary 12th Titan before kickoff and be recognized during the game.
Phillips, who died in October 2013 at the age of 90, will be the 15th person inducted into the ring of honor at halftime. He coached the Oilers for six seasons between 1975 and 1980 with AFC championship game berths in 1978 and 1979 at the height of the “Luv Ya Blue” era. Phillips still holds the highest winning percentage. 608) for any coach with at least two full seasons with this team, going 59-38 overall with a franchise that hadn’t had a winning record in eight seasons.
The Titans keeping the Oilers’ history remains a very sore subject in Houston, even with the NFL adding the Texans as an expansion franchise in 2002. Adams moved the franchise to Nashville in 1997 where they played as the Tennessee Oilers before being renamed the Titans in 1999.
Texas-born Ryan Tannehill still remembers Oilers games from Houston, even though he was just a child.
” My dad was a Warren Moon fan, so I remember that,” said the Titans quarterback. “Then, obviously, right before they came to this place, it was the game against The Rams. Those are pretty early on in my life, but definitely good memories.”
Plenty of touchdowns were scored during Mepham High School’s 49-21 victory over Roslyn last Saturday.
None bigger than the one by Sofia LaSpina.
The 15-year-old wide receiver’s 4-yard catch made her the first female in Long Island, New York, varsity football history to score a touchdown. She finished with three catches for 45 yards and the history-making score. The New York Jets honored LaSpina for her achievements and named her their high school player-of-the-week. Together with Gatorade, the Jets donate $1,000 each week in the selected player’s name to support their football program. Joe Namath, a former Jets quarterback, was also present at Wednesday’s charity event on Long Island. He caught up with LaSpina for a quick catch. Robert Saleh,
Jets’ coach, recognized LaSpina when he wore a Mepham High School football shirt during Friday’s news conference.
“Cool, right?” Saleh said. “I thought that was pretty cool.”
The Jets are also inviting LaSpina to their next home game (next Sunday against Tennessee) at MetLife Stadium.
“Hopefully she’s there screaming,” Saleh said.
LaSpina is a junior soccer player at Bellmore High School in New York. She scored her touchdown by being split wide and running to the front of goal where Peter Mayo placed the ball in her hands. To celebrate, LaSpina received many high-fives from her teammates and a pat on the helmet.
“Barely passing history class,” LaSpina wrote on her Instagram page, “but creating it is pretty fun.”
Zach Banner, a 6-foot-8, 344-pound right tackle for the Pittsburgh Steelers nicknamed the “Hulk” since he was a kid, spent time Tuesday at pop-up dinner for a nonprofit restaurant coming to Pittsburgh.
Cafe Momentum, based in Dallas, provides a 12-month post-release internship program for young men and women coming out of juvenile facilities. They are able to rotate through the various areas of the restaurant and focus on coaching and development, as well as life and social skills.
” You can’t play just football. You can’t just make money,” Banner said on the AP Pro Football Podcast. You can’t do these things without taking care of the next generation. Many of the NFL’s players come from areas that are in need of community and inner-city assistance. These players came from such communities. It’s very relatable. So using that empathy to create greatness off the field.”
Banner tore his right ACL in his first NFL start in Week 1 of the 2020 season. He is moving closer to returning to the Steelers.
” I gain more confidence as we go along because it is getting stronger and less inflammation. It just feels great. He said that it’s improving every day.
FEEDING THE RIVALRY
Rookie Philadelphia coach Nick Sirianni made the unusual move of wearing an opposing team’s logo during his meeting with reporters Thursday. The T-shirt he wore read “Beat Dallas” and featured the words above and beneath the helmets of both the Eagles or Cowboys. Both teams will play Monday night in their first NFC East match of the season.
Sirianni believes that he is simply expressing the emotions of the fans for the team’s largest rival.
“You can feel it,” he stated. “I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had an interaction with a fan since I arrived here. It’s like, “Hey Dallas!’ I think that’s amazing.” So really love the fact that I’m able to partake in this rivalry and it means a lot to the city, to our team, it means a lot to this building.”
Sirianni, who says the rest of his family has the shirts as well, knows what picture might appear in the opponent’s building this week.
“That’s okay,” he said. “This is about a good competition. I don’t know if anyone — our side, their side — needs any more bulletin-board material or if it’s even going to help because we know how big the rivalry is and how much it means to both sides.”
Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott didn’t seem to need any motivation.
” They’re probably our biggest rival since we’ve been here. It’s probably the team that I don’t like most.” The two-time rushing champion said. “Philly week It’s always fun But Elliott doesn’t expect Mike McCarthy to arrive in a “Beat Philly” shirt.
” We stay in our lane,” said he.
AP Pro Football Writers Teresa M. Walker, Rob Maaddi, Schuyler Dixon, Dennis Waszak Jr. and Barry Wilner contributed.
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