Sam Wyche, a former NFL quarterback and coach who took the Cincinnati Bengals to their last Super Bowl appearance, died Thursday, his family said.
Wyche’s granddaughter confirmed his death to WCPO-TV. He was 74.
Wyche played seven seasons in the NFL: three with the Bengals, two with the Washington Redskins, and one each with the Detroit Lions and St. Louis Cardinals. He also played two years for the Wheeling Ironmen of the Continental Football League.
Wyche got his first NFL head coaching job with the Bengals in 1984. He took over for Forrest Gregg, who had led the Bengals to their first Super Bowl appearance in the 1981 season, when the team narrowly lost to the San Francisco 49ers with Ken Anderson as their quarterback and Cris Collinsworth as their leading wide receiver.
He was 39 when he took over at the helm for the Bengals; he went 8-8 and 7-9 in his first two seasons at Cincinnati. He led the team to the Super Bowl in 1988 with a 12-4 record, but the team fell to the 49ers again in Super Bowl XXIII, 20-16, thanks to a game-winning touchdown pass from Joe Montana to John Talyor.
Wyche would last coach the Bengals in 1991 before taking over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the 1992 season. Wyche would fail to put together a winning record in four seasons with the Buccaneers. He drafted future key members of the team’s Super Bowl victory during the 2002 season — Derrick Brooks, John Lynch and Warren Sapp.
He would never get a head coaching position again. He last coached in the NFL for the Buffalo Bills as their quarterbacks’ coach from 2004 to 2005.
Wyche was known as the person who brought the no-huddle offense to the field. He also used 12 or more players in the huddle and had a few of them go to the sideline before the ball was snapped in an effort to confuse the opposing defense. That concept has since been outlawed by the NFL.
One of his most famous moments came in 1989 when fans were throwing snowballs onto the field. He addressed the crowd and took a shot at the Cleveland Browns at the same time.
“Will the next person that sees anybody throw anything onto this field, point ’em out, and get ’em out of here. You don’t live in Cleveland, you live in Cincinnati,” he said at the time.
Wyche is survived by his wife Jane, his two children and six grandchildren.