Former Bengals, Bucs HC Sam Wyche dies at age of 74

Former Cincinnati Bengals coach Sam Wyche died Thursday. He was 74.

Wyche coached the Bengals to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history in 1988, leading Cincinnati to a 12-4 mark before they were defeated by Bill Walsh's San Francisco 49ers in heartbreaking fashion in Super Bowl XXIII. He compiled a 61-66 mark in eight seasons with the Bengals, which included two trips to the postseason where he went 3-2.

"Sam was a wonderful guy," Bengals owner Mike Brown said in a statement. "We got to know him as both a player and a coach. As our coach, he had great success and took us to the Super Bowl. He was friends with everyone here, both during his tenure as head coach and afterwards. We not only liked him, we admired him as a man. He had a great generosity of spirit and lived his life trying to help others. We express our condolences to Jane and his children Zak and Kerry."

Wyche also coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1992-1995, going 23-41.

"We are saddened to hear of the passing of Sam Wyche earlier today," Buccaneers owner Bryan Glazer said in a statement. "Sam's innovative approach to offense left a lasting mark on the game of football. As our head coach in the early 1990s, Sam was instrumental in drafting cornerstone players such as John Lynch, Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp, who were all key foundational parts of our eventual Super Bowl championship. The Buccaneers organization sends its heartfelt condolences to his wife, Jane, and the entire Wyche family."

A product of Walsh's coaching tree, Wyche was innovative with his offensive strategy, pushing up-tempo play and employing unconventional playcalling. He came to the Bengals from the 49ers, with a one-year stint at Indiana University sandwiched in between, and completed a homecoming as a result, returning to the team that signed him as an undrafted free agent quarterback out of Furman in 1968.

Wyche's tenure with the Bengals is remembered fondly for their run to the Super Bowl in a season in which his team led the league in scoring and total yards. Propelled by quarterback Boomer Esiason and running back Ickey Woods, Wyche's Bengals went on a no-huddle sprint through the regular season to a meeting with his mentor, who needed a game-winning touchdown drive to take down the upstart Cincinnati squad.

Wyche will always be remembered for his passion, which manifested in a legendary, rivalry-stoking statement to snowball-hurling Bengals fans to stop acting like their Northern Ohio counterparts: "You don't live in Cleveland, you live in Cincinnati!"

Wyche's career saw him move to Florida in 1992, coaching in Tampa Bay before moving on to a life beyond the sideline.

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