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Phillips Likely New Bill Coach

January 05, 1998|From Associated Press

Wade Phillips, who helped shape the Buffalo Bills into one of the NFL's strongest defensive teams, is expected to be hired today as the successor to Marv Levy.

Buffalo owner Ralph Wilson acknowledged Sunday that a news conference has been scheduled for today.

Wilson met with Phillips on Friday at the owner's winter home in West Palm Beach, Fla. The Buffalo News reported Sunday that Phillips accepted the job during a phone conversation with Wilson on Saturday.

Phillips, 50, has been considered the top candidate since Levy retired last week as the most victorious coach in team history.

After Levy's announcement, Phillips refused to comment about his future. He did not return a message left at Rich Stadium, where he was Sunday.

"I have not signed a contract," Phillips said while working as a playoff analyst for One-On-One Sports Radio Network in Chicago. "Until that's done, it's not official to me."

Phillips was the coach for two years in Denver before being fired by the Broncos after a 7-9 finish in 1994 and was replaced by Mike Shanahan. He became the Bills' defensive coordinator a year later.

Phillips has two years remaining on a contract that pays him more than $400,000 annually as an assistant. He is expected to receive a new contract for at least three years.

Phillips will probably replace some of the current Buffalo assistants--with offensive coordinator Dan Henning and offensive line coach Tom Bresnahan the most likely to go.

The offense was mostly blamed for the 6-10 season that left the Bills out of the playoffs.

The defense, which has ranked in the top five in sacks in each of Phillips' three seasons with the team, was credited for most of the Bills' six victories and for keeping the score close in several other games.

Phillips' first job in the NFL came in 1976 as an assistant with the Houston Oilers when his father, Bum Phillips, was the coach.

From 1981-85, he was the defensive coordinator under his father when they were with the New Orleans Saints. He also was an assistant in Philadelphia and Denver before becoming the Bronco coach.

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