Dayton Rotary Club travels down memory lane

Kory Whitley (left) and Mike Biles (right)

Do you remember the ‘Love Ya Blue’ Days? Thanks to Rotarian Kory Whitley and his guest presenter Mike Biles, the Dayton Rotary Club enjoyed taking a trip down memory lane. For the youngsters out there, this was the era of the Houston Oilers under Head Coach Bum Phillips who was born in Orange, Texas. 

Presenter Mike Biles’ father was one of the coaches at the time who worked with Phillips and had a wealth of wonderful stories to share with the Rotarians. Biles showed a video called ‘The 1978 Oilers Story’, which was narrated by Dave McDermand and sponsored by Coors. The story of the Houston Oilers team was one of commitment and the importance of the team being a family.

Mike Biles stated, “Coach Phillips worked with players and coaches alike to build a family atmosphere that built relationships that have lasted well beyond the ‘Love Ya Blue’ years. The players might not have been the best athletes around and the coaches might not have been the best when it came to Xs and Os, but Bum’s philosophy was that athletes do not perform for coaches they do not like. In addition, everyone loved Bum. This team played their hearts out because they were a family.”

In 1978, the Oilers’ fortunes improved when they drafted University of Texas football star Earl Campbell, known as the “Tyler Rose”.  Campbell galloped into UT football history with his Heisman Trophy-winning 1977 season where he rushed for 1,744 yards. He was the best player in college football after his senior season when the Houston Oilers traded for the first overall selection in the 1978 National Football League (NFL) draft, which they used to pick Campbell. He was already popular with much of the team’s fan base because of his Texas roots and collegiate years. He was named the NFL’s Offensive Rookie of the Year after rushing for a league-high 1,450 yards and he helped the Oilers reach the conference championship game in his first season with the team.

The Houston Oilers’ quarterback that year was Dan Pastorini. In 1978, he threw for a career-high 2,473 yards and 16 touchdowns. This was Pastorini’s best season as a pro football player. In the 1978 playoffs, Pastorini fared very well, helping lead the Oilers to wins over the Miami Dolphins and AFC East division champion New England Patriots- both upsets. However, in the AFC Championship, the Steelers routed them 34–5. In spite of the lopsided defeat, the Oilers returned home to a packed Astrodome for a pep-rally uncommon in professional sports that was sponsored by the radio station KILT.

Great quotes from Bum Phillips included, “Dallas Cowboys may be America’s team, but the Houston Oilers are Texas’ team.”; “Respect all. Fear none.” and “How do you win? By getting average players to play good and good players to play great. That’s how you win.” Mike Biles ended the informative and inspirational program by stating that we all could learn from that era as “character, courage, and commitment could apply to any team, any school, and any business.”

President Ann Marie Mitchell reminded everyone of the upcoming Fish Fry and then led the group in the Rotary 4-Way Test.

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