By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
It was anything but a routine practice day for the Stanford football team Tuesday. The Cardinal learned it had lost one of its own. Stanford senior offensive lineman Andrew Phillips' father, Bill, died in the Alaska plane crash that also took the life of former Alaska senator Ted Stevens.
There was some good news amid the tragedy. Phillips' younger brother, Willie, survived the crash with a broken ankle. The 13-year-old also heroically ran up the mountain to flag down the rescue plane.
"We told him to take care of his family," Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh said Wednesday. "When he's back, he'll be back. A sudden, tragic death is the toughest to grieve and you never know how long it's going to take. Bill lived a life any man would be proud to have lived. His legacy lives on in his sons."
Andrew's brother Paul Phillips is a freshman tight end at Indiana and his brother Colter Phillips is a sophomore tight end at Virginia.
"We've all sent him text messages before practice," Stanford senior center Chase Beeler said. "When we learned about it, it was surreal. All of us were a little off-kilter after hearing the news."
Phillips' father was a former Chief of Staff for Stevens, and Andrew served an internship with former Speaker of the House of Representatives Dennis Hassert in the spring of 2006.
Bill Phillips played football at the University of Evansville and both of his grandfathers lettered in football and basketball. His mother, Janet, is a competitive equestrienne and the family are descendants of John Colter, part of the Lewis & Clark expedition.
"We're going to keep him in our thoughts," Beeler said. "Once he gets back we'll talk to him and I'm sure we'll want to do something special. He's a terrific guy."
Phillips, a fifth-year senior, started at right guard in his sophomore year and switched to left guard, where he was the starter last year.
Sophomore Kevin Danser, a Bellarmine Prep grad, filled in for Phillips during Wednesday's practice but Harbaugh said the position will run by committee.