Crazy Joe Phillips: Former Chief On The Lam


Recently, Real Sports on HBO did a segment on NFL wives of former players dealing with mental and physical health issues. One of the player/wife features was crazy Joe Phillips; former Chiefs DL who played with Dan Saleaumua and helped the Chiefs make the playoffs 5 of the 6 years he was in Kansas City.

Now, much like Osama bin Laden, Phillips is a fugitive from justice and “no one” knows where this 6-5 300+ lb former NFL beast can be found. What is it with tall guys no one can find? Maybe we can call him JoeSama bin Phillips.

Apparently, the rush of the NFL, the pain suffered and the following crash into a boring regular-joe life was too much for Phillips and others to handle.

from Randy Covitz’s story on 7/25/2006 : “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, police picked up Phillips 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.”

Phillips is a guy who everyone thought had “it all figured out.” Armed with a law degree and a stockbroker’s license…he would workout mornings in the off-season and head to the law office in a suit for the rest of the day. His wife, also a lawyer, and he appeared in commercials for the United Way (one of the first in the NFL) and participated in philanthropic activities in Kansas City.

“A downward spiral…”

“Phillips played his last game with the Chiefs on Jan. 4, 1998, a bitter 14-10 loss to the Denver Broncos in an AFC playoff game at Arrowhead. Phillips was so distraught that he drove home in full pads and uniform.
He spent 1998 with the St. Louis Rams and 1999 with the Minnesota Vikings before calling it a career. And then, despite all the years of preparation, Phillips’ life plan began to change.”

His wife, Cynthia, claims he “relapsed” into drugs and alcohol, but according the the article, no Chiefs ever saw him take a drink or drug. Also, allegations surfaced of domestic abuse between the two.

But wait a second, HBO portrayed Phillips as a guy who “snapped”, slammed some drink, beat his (ex)wife’s ass and split for no reason. Something I dug up online paints a slightly different picture.

Hat tip to Chiefs Planet’s Message Boards-In a comment dated 1-24-08, a person claiming to be Joe Phillips’s sister wrote the following:

“As Joe Phillips’ sister, I would like to make a few statements.

Cindy Ream-Phillips saw my brother less than a month ago in a Florida court. Real Sports was well-aware of this fact, filming this court date as well as one in the fall. In fact, the litigation has been ongoing between Joe and Cindy, and they have, either in-person or through representation, been in the same room numerous times over the past six years: three times since September alone.

Cindy left their marriage a wealthy woman; she took at least 1/2 the marital assets. She also defied a court order and took sole control of the children’s substantial trust accounts.

During the divorce and for at least a year after, Joe submitted willingly to random testing. He never tested positive for anything.

Joe is living on disability from the NFL. He has been consistently re-evaulated and the result is the same: The damage to his body is among the worst the physicians have seen. He is in constant pain.

While Joe is behind in child support, that only occurred when he ceased to be updated as to the children’s trust accounts.

In addition, child support should have been adjusted long ago due to Joe’s disability, Cindy’s income, and Ashley’s majority. However, Cindy continues to insist on the original amount, which insures that Joe will be forever behind in payments.

Cindy’s statements of abuse are unsubstantiated and they were not deemed valid in the original divorce decree. Joe did not abandon his children; he spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in court fees and visitation costs. He did not abandon Cindy; If a person is unhappy in a marriage, they have the right to leave.

It is not hard to imagine how the pain, the lies, and most of all the lack of contact with a person’s children might drive him to despair. My brother is not perfect, but he is not what Cindy alleges.

There is much more to this, but I assume this is enough.”

This “information” was missing from the HBO report, they said no one had seen or heard from Joe in years…when in fact, they had allegedly filmed him in the courtroom(s) but left that detail out for the dramatic effect.

Cynthia’s story on HBO seemed a little too pat for me when I watched it the first time. Vague details about why he left…a generic claim of abuse that was deemed unsubstantiated, and just a “poor, poor me” type of a story. After watching, I really felt like the story was 1 sided despite his up-and-leaving. Just because someone leaves their wife, doesn’t mean they are out of their mind.

What was more likely to me is…he moved his family to warm, sunny, income tax-free Florida and his wife started nagging him. “Now what Joe, now what Joe, now what Joe, now what Joe? What are we going to do to stay rich and get richer? Hmmm?”

“Let open a law firm, lets open a law firm, lets open a law firm!!!”

“…when are you going to get off your ass Joe?!? Huh?!? I don’t give a fuck if your knees hurt…Mommy needs new shit to wear around and a convertible!” That’s enough to make anyone reach for the Jack and Coke. (pun intended)

Joe might have snapped after all that. Destroy your body for 10 years in the NFL, have fans screaming like maniacs each time you run on the field. All to finally try and get some peace and quiet in Florida…and your wife won’t STFU. You are aching each day, but you have millions of dollars so you buy some toys…no happiness. You try to take it easy, but you need that rush again…so you drink one weekend…do some drugs that you’ve spared yourself from and the instant you realize that you’ll never get that high back again; crash of ego and id are inevitable. The Joe we know had to go. He’s gone forever. Searching.

I worked with a former DL very recently and even attended a Seattle Seahawks game with him, his first since retiring from the NFL in ’96 . He couldn’t even watch the game, he went inside and hung out at the beer garden the whole game. I asked him if it was tough…and he told me he couldn’t even put it into words.

The lack of adulation, coupled with nagging pains and wives and the boredom of Regular JoeLand where most of us reside…proved to be too much.

Joe is probably somewhere up in Oregon, (a good place to hide out if you don’t want anyone to know what you’re up to) riding his Harley up and down the hilly back-roads, between lines of fir trees; maybe a little buzzed and half lost. No one knows who he is, or who he used to be; or who he is now or what he is looking for. He doesn’t know what he is looking for. All he knows is that he once had it all.

He’s kinda like Michael Jackson– He’s white… instead of the moonwalk it was the rip move…and instead of pre-pubescent boys…its strong drink and maybe some drugs.

Empathize with Joe, let him do anything to ease the pain of being a broken Gladiator.

He’s not JoeSama or Joe Phillips anymore…he’s Hunter S. Thompson!

Riding the crest on a high and beautiful wave!