O.A. “Bum” Phillips, the folksy Texas football icon who coached the Houston Oilers and New Orleans Saints, died Friday at age 90.
“Bum is gone to Heaven,” tweeted son Wade Phillips, the defensive coordinator for the Houston Texans. “Loved and will be missed by all — great Dad, Coach, and Christian.”
Phillips died at his home in Goliad, Texas.
Phillips coached the Oilers to consecutive appearances in the AFC Championship game after the 1978-79 seasons, losing to Central Division rival Pittsburgh both times.
LOCKER COULD START
Quarterback Jake Locker passed his practice test, doing what the Tennessee Titans wanted by increasing his work each day.
Now the decision on who starts against San Francisco on Sunday rests with coaches, trainers and Locker, a former Ferndale High and University of Washington star.
“We haven’t decided yet. We’re not really leaning any way,” Titans coach Mike Munchak said Friday after practice. “Jake is doing well.”
Munchak said the challenge now is deciding if Locker or Ryan Fitzpatrick starts. Locker, the No. 8 overall pick in 2011, will have a big say in the discussions.
Locker sprained his right hip and knee Sept. 29 in a win over the Jets and missed two games, both losses, including a 20-13 decision at Seattle on Sunday.
RETURN OF GRONK?
Patriots star tight end Rob Gronkowski “has now been cleared by all his doctors to play Sunday in the Jets game,” his agent Drew Rosenhaus said.
Gronkowski was listed as questionable (meaning he has a 50-50 chance of playing) on the Patriots’ injury report Friday for the fifth consecutive week.
Gronkowski had offseason surgery on his back and broken forearm.
Falcons star receiver Roddy White will miss the first game of his nine-year career, Sunday against Tampa Bay, because of injuries to his left hamstring and right ankle. Atlanta running back Steven Jackson (hamstring) also is out. ... Starting linebacker Donald Butler, a third-round pick out of the UW in 2010, is doubtful against Jacksonville because of a groin injury. ... Miami receiver Brandon Gibson, a former Rogers High and Washington State star, is questionable against Buffalo with a hip ailment. ... The NFL confirmed a $31,500 fine on Detroit defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh for his hit on Cleveland quarterback Brandon Weeden on Sunday. ... The NFL fined Arizona defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu $10,000 for kicking San Francisco guard Alex Boone in the face Sunday. Boone was called for a personal foul during the exchange and fined $7,875. Ta’amu, a former Rainier Beach High and UW star, wasn’t penalized on the play. ... Ravens starting linebacker Josh Bynes is out against the Steelers after having surgery on an infected finger. ... The Vikings placed starting safety Harrison Smith on injured reserve with a designation to return because of a turf toe injury. ... The Packers claimed rookie receiver Chris Harper off waivers. Harper, who was waived by San Francisco on Thursday, was a fourth-round pick by Seattle out of Kansas State.