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Sam Wyche (1945–2019), head coach took Cincinnati Bengals to Super Bowl

Getty Images / Ronald C. Modra

He played seven seasons in the NFL as a quarterback

Sam Wyche was the last head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals to take the team to the Super Bowl. Despite a high-powered offense, led by quarterback Boomer Esiason, the Benglas lost Super Bowl XXIII on a thrilling last-minute drive by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana. It was a cruel twist of fate for Wyche, who had previously coached Montana as part of the 49ers coaching staff that won Super Bowl XVI, coincidentally also against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Wyche was known for a fiery attitude that sometimes got him into trouble, particularly with the media. He was fined several times, most notably for not allowing a female reporter into the locker room after a game in 1990.

He was fired by the Bengals in 1991 following a losing season. He coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1992 to 1995. After leaving the NFL he occasionally coached at Pickens High School near his home in Pickens, S.C.

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Died: Thursday, January 2, 2020 (Who else died on January 2?)

Details of death: Died at his home in Pickens, S.C. from complications of melanoma at the age of 74.


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No-huddle offense innovations: Wyche used the no-huddle offense throughout the game, rather than just at the end of the half. His offenses were creative and aggressive, keeping defenses off-kilter. It was a style of football that effective and fun to watch.

Notable quote: “I like gambling and taking chances; it’s what life is all about. Fans are having fun and players have fun, so why can’t coaches have fun, too?” he told The New York Times in the lead up to Super Bowl XXIII in 1989.

What people said about him: “Your Dad made me into the NFL quarterback I became. He entrusted his own brainchild, the no huddle offense, to me and nobody else. I’ll always be eternally grateful for that.” —Boomer Esiason, Cincinnati Bengals quarterback in a message to Wyche’s daughter

“You can say there is consensus that Paul Brown revolutionized the game. You can say there is consensus that Bill Walsh advanced the game with the West Coast offense. And you have to say there is consensus that Sam did the same thing.” —Bob Trumpy, Cincinnati Bengals tight end

Full obituary: The New York Times

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