Opera about former Oilers coach Bum Phillips' life comes to Houston

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The 'Bum Phillips All-American Opera,' which is based on the former Oilers coach's autobiography, is coming to Houston, thanks to a charity founded by one of his players. (KTRK)

Before the Texans, we had the Oilers, and before Bill O'Brien, there was Bum Phillips. Forty years ago -- nearly to the day -- Phillips coached his first game for the Oilers in the Astrodome.

"He was like a second father to me, and he was that way to a lot of the players," former Oilers quarterback Dan Pastorini said.

It was 1975, when Bum Phillips took over as head coach of the Oilers. During his five years at the helm, he led an all-star team, including Pastorini, to two consecutive AFC championship games against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

They lost both times. But coming home to the fans in Houston is still one of Pastorini's treasured memories.

"And all the people talk about being in the Astrodome and how many people were there, but they're surprised at the number of people parked along the side of the Beltway and I-45. There had to be 300,000 out there," Pastorini said.

Back inside the Dome, Phillips' words went down in history: "Beat the door down."

Those same words today take the unusual form of opera.

"Bum Phillips and opera don't belong in the same sentence," Pastorini said.

Yet it's Pastorini's charity that helped bring the "Bum Phillips All-American Opera," which is based on his autobiography, to Houston after he first saw it in New York.

"And I sat there and I watched this thing unfold for two hours, and at the end of it I had tears coming down my cheeks," Pastorini said.

"It certainly meant a lot to us. Meant a lot to me," said Wade Phillips, Bum Phillips' son.

It's the story of Phillips' past, but Wade says dad always looked to the future.

"Not many people get a tribute to them in any way and this opera did it for us," Wade Phillips said.

You can see the Bum Phillips opera at 8:30pm Thursday at the Stafford Center.
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