The King' spent time on the gridiron
By By Marty Stamper / sports writer
Sept. 13, 2002
Some area coaches have been fortunate enough to coach athletes that went on to play in the NFL. Others have had kids who became famous in other fields.
None can match the claim that former Newton County Academy head football coach Malcolm Phillips can make. And I'm not talking about the fact that Phillips coached the Generals to their first winning season in 1991 after 19 consecutive years without finishing over .500.
In the early 1950s, Phillips coached a guy who would go on to be known simply as "The King."
Yes, ol' Elvis once played high school football. For every bit of two weeks of spring training at Humes High School in Memphis, Phillips said.
Wouldn't Elvis (Presley, not Grbac) have made a great quarterback. Listen and you can almost hear him calling signals.
Maybe he'd change the play the coach sent in.
Most players then wore the black high tops that the late Johnny Unitas was so famous for. Reckon they would have been good enough for Elvis or would he have demanded blue suede cleats?
Just how good was The King on the gridiron?
The main problem with that was Elvis had to take off his helmet and Phillips said, due to the cold Februaries in Memphis, the players were specifically told not to remove their headgear to help prevent them from getting sick.
Maybe he didn't want to go north and risk playing in that ol' Kentucky rain, but after two weeks, Presley left the team.
This from a guy who would later give away expensive cars to complete strangers.
But The King didn't totally give up on football. After he moved into Graceland, he would rent a theater and watch movies with his buddies from 11 p.m. to 2 a.m. Then they would head to Whitehaven High School where he had rented the football field and play touch football until 5 a.m., Phillips said.
There was one catch. Since Elvis was paying the bills, he had first pick of the players.
Rumor has it if his team was trailing and down to its final possession, Elvis would break the huddle singing something about "It's Now or Never," so you see how football may have affected his singing career.
Elvis also performed musically on stage at Humes during his high school days.
Thinking a riot was under way, Phillips scaled the outside fire escape and peeped in to see if he needed to call the police. What he saw was Elvis stealing the show.