The Los Angeles Rams' best Twitter follow, by far, is their 69-year-old defensive coordinator, a man who grew up with rotary dial telephones and knew "tweeting" only as the sound birds made.
If you have Twitter, like the NFL and don't already follow Wade Phillips ... well, what are you doing with your life?
His account, @sonofbum, a tribute to his late father and also the title of his new book, is lighthearted and charming, self-deprecating and silly, complete with videos and GIFs and, yes, selfies. These days he goes to Twitter largely to pump his book. But he also utilizes the platform to get messages across to players, to give fans a peek behind the curtain, to take playful shots at opponents and to poke fun at the dichotomy of the Rams' coaching staff, on which the head man, Sean McVay, is 38 years his junior.
Weeks ago, Rams general manager Les Snead was talking about monitoring the social media habits of the young players he might draft, and McVay chimed in: "I just worry about keeping an eye on our defensive coordinator's Twitter." With good reason.
You probably remember this one:
Rams have the only staff with DC on Medicare and HC in Daycare
— Wade Phillips (@sonofbum) February 2, 2017
Yes, Phillips has a Twitter account and the 31-year-old McVay, the youngest head coach in modern NFL history, does not. What a world. As of Monday afternoon, Phillips was up to 131,000 followers. He had tweeted fewer than 1,900 times, a modest amount in a self-obsessed world, but he has made each one of them count. He joined Twitter in August 2009, while serving as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
"I didn’t know much about it," Phillips said, "but I knew that you could kind of talk to the fans directly. So I tried it then. It was for fun, to let them know, ‘Hey, the team’s doing good,’ or whatever. Those kind of things. Because fans love that. They like to know the inside a little bit. And then fun stuff for me."
Phillips has his share of fun.
Chicken Parm tastes so good-I like it especially with Cheese
— Wade Phillips (@sonofbum) November 2, 2015
Or when he took a lighthearted jab after a win over the New Orleans Saints in 2016:
— Wade Phillips (@sonofbum) November 14, 2016
Personal trivia is a part of Phillips' account:
Talking about records. I am the only coach ever let go by all 3 Texas NFL teams(Oilers,Texans,Cowboys)!
— Wade Phillips (@sonofbum) March 8, 2014
And so are hard doses of reality:
Coaches life--unemployed to SB victory to unemployed in 3 years or less
— Wade Phillips (@sonofbum) January 2, 2017
Phillips called picking Twitter up "fairly easy," which few his age could claim. "You know," he added, "we had all film when I first started in football. We had film and we had to splice it and all that stuff ourselves. Things change, we change with it."
In that sense, Phillips -- with his 10th NFL franchise -- is a master at evolving. He now takes selfies:
— Wade Phillips (@sonofbum) September 4, 2016
He posts Oprah GIFs:
I think Oprah liked the book-Son of Bum pic.twitter.com/UyQxcB9jbY
— Wade Phillips (@sonofbum) May 10, 2017
And he embeds videos that accentuate his point:
Thanks for all the kind words-I was lucky only fractured 1 rib(have 23 more good ones) pic.twitter.com/4dly46hMVb
— Wade Phillips (@sonofbum) November 2, 2016
Phillips says his Twitter experience has been predominantly positive, which may be the most surprising development of all.
"There’s haters on Twitter; we know that," Phillips allowed. "But overall, there’s a lot of people, I think, like me, who have fun with it and enjoy it."
When the Rams hired Phillips, veteran defensive end-turned-outside linebacker Robert Quinn quickly learned that his new defensive coordinator had "the best Twitter swag out there."
Rookie Samson Ebukam, a fourth-round pick last month, joined the Rams expecting something completely different. "I thought he was going to be kind of a hard ass," Ebukam said of Phillips during last week's rookie minicamp. "Because he’s one of those -- he’s an old dude, you know what I’m saying? He’s an old dude, and I thought he was just going to be one of those hard-ass dudes that’s just like, ‘Do this, do this, do this.' But he’s chill, man."
Ebukam would've already known -- if he followed Phillips on Twitter.