Hearne: The Long Strange Trip (And Odd Return) of Chiefs Star Joe Phillips

1386098530000-Phillips-12-02-13Anybody else do a double take when they saw that list of former Chiefs players suing the team for head injuries?

Because lo and behold, smack in the middle of that Gang of Five, stood former Chiefs star and respected attorney and man-about-town Joe Phillips.

Remember him?

Phillips is the defensive tackle that went from hero to zero and dropped from sight seven or so years ago. Here’s what Kansas City Star sports reporter Randy Covitz wrote about Phillips in July of 2006:

“Today Joe Phillips is a wanted man.

“Phillips smiling visage, the one that flashed across Kansas City television screens in the 1990s, has morphed into a police mug shot — his once-reddish goatee turned to scraggly gray stubble. His face has been posted on a law enforcement Web site under the heading ‘Have you seen this individual?’

“Phillips, 43, is a fugitive from justice in Oregon. He has been arrested twice on charges of driving under the influence during the past two years and once for an outstanding bench warrant for failure to comply with the terms of probation stemming from the first DUI in January 2005 in Clackamas County, Ore.

“He was on the lam — or ‘on abscond’ — from November 2005 until May 2006, when he was arrested in Portland, Ore. He was transferred from a jail in Portland to Clackamas County, but was set free because of jail overcrowding. Two days before his June 20 arraignment, Phillips was picked up on another DUI charge while driving a motorcycle in Lincoln City, Ore.

Phillips was released pending a hearing and was to appear in court June 30 in Clackamas County. He never showed. And he’s been missing ever since.”
Screen shot 2013-12-04 at 11.25.40 AMThat was then…
Today Phillips is 50 and has come out of what passes for hiding to seek compensation from the Chiefs for something now being called “post-concussion syndrome.” 
That said, what inquiring minds really want to know right now is what the heck happened to Phillips and what’s his state of affairs today? because at last blush – as Covitz so eloquently put it – “How does a man who stands 6 feet 5 inches and weighs 315 pounds disappear? He has no known job, permanent address or phone number.”
Another unanswered is whether an altogether non-football head injury could have something to do with Phillips particular syndrome?
 Because, as has been reported, in September of 1990 Phillips was allegedly attacked by three men as he and “an unidentified female friend” were walking to his car from a California nightclub.
“A witness told police that someone in a car made a remark about the woman,” Covitz wrote. “The comment led to an exchange of words between Phillips and the men, and it quickly escalated into a brawl. Phillips nearly died in the fight. He suffered a skull fracture, a broken nose, three broken ribs, and a broken facial bone near an eye. A police officer testified Phillips had a blood alcohol level of about 0.23 — nearly three times the legal limit of .08 for drivers in California at the time.”
Get that? Nearly died, a skull fracture.
Covitz also reported that Phillips had fallen on hard times financially. So it’s not surprising he wants a piece of the action in a potential settlement with the Chiefs.
And the Star wasn’t the only media to document Phillips fall.  
An HBO Real Sports segment in 2007 that zeroed in on the wives of former NFL players going through tough times, included Phillips now ex-wife Cynthia Phillips,who in the words of Deadspin  “painted a very scary picture of the former popular defensive lineman. Apparently, he’s out of hiding and he’s now got his own creepy, creepy, unnerving blog.
$(KGrHqNHJCEE63(UQ+peBO4NhZW3P!~~60_35Deadspin then posted the following excerpt from Phillips alleged blog: 
“While I was doing everythng to save my family, I was accused of drugs and alcohol abuseI said fine you say I am crazy or on drugs I do what ever it takes. I sought extensive professional advice. It turned out to be a good thing, they could vouch for me, my actions and my stability. One analyst after being involved in a deposition and review of the case and the facts said alcohol may have kept me sane! I was never diagnosed by them with anything other than depression.“I went so far as to have myself tested before and after ever visitation with my children. I t to was a good thing as we used the tests in court when she accuse me ob being on drugs during a visitation with my children. With over 2 and 1/2 years of random testing, testing before and after seeing my children at times and sites of Cindy’s chosing I never tested positive for anything.—nothing—ever—inspite of this she continues to make allegations. I ask people to look at the facts not just her assertions.”
A check of the blog shows no further posts have been added since June 2008.
That was the year the news and stories about Joe Phillips pretty much dried up and blew away. Until that is, this week with the filing against the Chiefs.
Stay tuned…
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11 Responses to Hearne: The Long Strange Trip (And Odd Return) of Chiefs Star Joe Phillips

  1. chuck says:

    I know many guys who went through humiliating and needlessly damaging divorces, brought on by the guilty until proven innocent, Star Chamber Family Court System.

    The over the top, blatant comtemp that court officers at every level, from top to bottom have for men in this system belies any semblence of fair play and justice while substituting the patina of stewardship for children over the all too real agenda of the destruction of fathers. This is counterproductive and pernicious for all members of any given family.

    The result, maybe here with Mr. Phillips, is frustration, alchohol abuse, anger and marginalization from friends and society.

    When, in disgrace with fortune and men’s eyes, / I all alone beweep my outcast state / And trouble deal heaven with my bootless cries.

  2. chuck says:

    “Deaf” not deal, oops


  3. Hot Carl says:

    “The over the top, blatant comtemp that court officers at every level, from top to bottom have for men in this system belies any semblence of fair play and justice while substituting the patina of stewardship for children over the all too real agenda of the destruction of fathers. This is counterproductive and pernicious for all members of any given family.”

    Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  4. BS says:

    Joe Phillips was introduced at halftime of the Giants game earlier this season with a bunch of other Chiefs alumni. I was surprised to see him.

    • admin says:

      His periscope is still pretty low from what I can tell.

      I wonder if that’s where he made the hookup to join the other former players on the lawsuit against the Chiefs?

  5. CG says:

    Man I knew both of them when they were lawyers at McDowell, Rice and Smith…they were the toast of KC, turned on the Plaza lights one year together…the model Chiefs couple before and after he played, both lawyers…well to do..then all this happened…I wrote about it back then too…so odd…Joe even had a run in with my Dad, Stan, at the gym over his wife…angry guy…who knows WTF went wrong with him and them…they had it all. I think she is a teacher now somewhere? He is still on the run I think. The crimes are not big ones, but maybe several charges in a couple states, messy. Maybe someone can write in and clear it up.

    • admin says:

      You guys like the earthy anecdotes, so try this one on for size…

      I remember former Star publisher Art Brisbane’s wife wisecracking about how Joe’s wife (and fellow attorney) Cynthia Phillips opened quite a few eyes with her thong swimsuit at the Carriage Club…

      You know, back in the day.

  6. the dude says:

    I dunno, crying foul about damage to your body playing a brutally volent sport like American Football is akin to boxers complaining about getting brain damage by taking one too many punches. It kinda goes with the sport, sport.

    But I do not think that children that have not reached puberty should be playing a hard contact sport like American Football, their bodies are not up to the task at that point.

    • dreamwriter326 says:

      These guys are arguing that research as far back as the 1920s and ’30s indicated that repetitive concussions caused permanent brain damage, but to professional football players they were considered “getting your bell rung” — for which the cure was smelling salts and getting back into the game. They are claiming the Chiefs knew about the danger and downplayed it _ sort of like workers asbestos for years and not told they stood a strong chance of getting cancer.

      Just like the cancer cases, for many of these football players the symptoms such as blurred vision, sharp mood swings and debilitating headaches didn’t really get unbearable until decades later.

      It’s one thing to have to walk with a limp for the rest of your life because you played football. It’s another to spend the last years of your shortened life expectancy suffering so much that you eventually just put an end it it (Junior Seau, anyone?).

      I think these guys have a good argument, albeit one that could have a huge impact on the brutal game we love watching and those highlight-reel collisions that fill our ESPN Sunday afternoons.

  7. admin says:

    Well said, Dreamwriter326 (are there really 325 Dreamwriters ahead of you?)

    Guess if you consider NFL players the gladiators of today, at least they mostly don’t have to kill one another or get eaten by lions. They get to smell the roses, etc. for however much longer.

    Here’s a question:

    At what point in time did NFL stars actually wake up to the fact that there were any number of debilitating injuries they were almost bound to suffer in one form or another?

    Aren’t they really agreeing to pay the physical price for their exotic cars, the women, the cash and the glory they most assuredly otherwise would not have a snowball’s chance in Hell of getting their mitts on?

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