JEFF PEARLMAN

Coming October 2022: "The Last Folk Hero: The Life and Myth of Bo Jackson"

Wade Phillips and the undressing of a decent man

The above video is from Driscoll Middle School, and the trick play that resulted in a score. It’s getting a lot of attention, which is funky and cool and whatever. But—and I hate to sound like some 95-year-old do-gooder—I think it’s sorta bullshit.

If an NFL team pulled this off, great. Even a high school team. But basically what we have here is some middle school coach pulling the wool over the eyes of a bunch of eighth graders. They’re all just starting to learn the game, and the rules of the game. So this sort of stuff, while fun to watch, isn’t exactly impressive. Wow, you tricked some 12-year olds. Wow.

On a side note, I feel bad for Wade Phillips. Should he have been fired? Certainly. But the guy seems to be a genuinely nice fella—and I love his father, Bum Phillips. Back when I was new at SI, the magazine sent me to Goliad, Texas to hang with Bum and his wife. They were so incredibly warm and giving … have met few people with that sort of character in the world of pro sports. Wade appears to be cut from that cloth. So while he definitely lost his team, it doesn’t mean we should gleefully enjoy his undressing.