Former Bengals, Bucs coach Sam Wyche dies at 74

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Sam Wyche was one of a kind among NFL head coaches.

He led the Bengals to the Super Bowl in 1988 but perhaps is best known for taking the field microphone during a game against the Seahawks in 1989. With Bengals fans pelting the field with snowballs after an official’s call went against the home team, Wyche yelled over the PA system, “Will the next person that sees anybody throw anything onto the field, point them out, and get them out of here. You don’t live in Cleveland! You live in Cincinnati!”

The line is repeated often in Cincinnati.

Wyche died Thursday at his home in Pickens, South Carolina, after a short battle with metastatic melanoma, Peter King of NBC reports. Wyche was 74.

“Sam was a wonderful guy,” Bengals president 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.”

My first season covering the NFL came in Tampa in 1994, Wyche’s next-to-last season as an NFL head coach. The Buccaneers were one of the worst teams in the NFL when they hired Wyche in 1992, and they remained one of the worst teams in the NFL when they fired him after the 1995 season.

But the Bucs drafted John Lynch, Warren Sapp and Derrick Brooks while Wyche was with the team, so he hardly left the cupboard bare for Tony Dungy.

Wyche’s tenure at One Buc Place always was entertaining.

During the 1995 season, when it was obvious the Bucs, under new ownership, would hire a new coach, Wyche pulled a prank on his team. Jimmy Johnson, who had parted ways with the Cowboys after the 1993 season, showed up in Tampa for an NFL Films promo orchestrated by Wyche.

Unbeknownst to the players, personnel assistant John Idzik entered the locker room, interrupted Wyche and told the coach to bring his playbook. Johnson walked in wearing a Buccaneers jacket and began addressing the players as if he was their new coach.

Wyche coached the Bengals from 1984-1991, going 61-66. Their most recent postseason victory came with Wyche as their head coach.

He was 23-41 in four seasons with the Bucs.

Wyche also played seven seasons in the NFL, with Cincinnati, Washington, Detroit and St. Louis. He was on the Bengals’ inaugural team in 1968 and went 2-7 as a starting quarterback over three seasons in Cincinnati.

32 responses to “Former Bengals, Bucs coach Sam Wyche dies at 74

  1. “Will the next person that sees ANYBODY throw anything onto this field, point them out, and get them out of here…you don’t live in Cleveland, you live in Cincinnati!”

    R.I.P. coach. You had a real passion for the game.

  2. May not have been the best coach, but he was one of the most fiery coaches I’ve ever seen. RIP Sam.

  3. Very sad. He was the Bengals coach while I was growing up and he made being a Bengals fan fun. Kids growing up since haven’t had much of a chance to have fun as a Bengals fan.

  4. Many people don’t know this, but Sam Wyche helped expose the Seahawks cheating ways with his no huddle offense. Whether it’s steroids or faking injuries, cheating is disgusting.

    RIP coach

  5. RIP Sam Wyche

    A great offensive coach, who deserves more credit developing Joe Montana than anyone.

    A true Bengal who endured to both Paul Brown and Bill Walsh.

    Entertaining as well !!

  6. No dog in this hunt but I share similar feelings that the NFL lost one of its most passionate and most innovative coaches. And to do that in Cincy where there is usually more bungle than winning!

  7. His Bengals were really fun to watch in the late 80s. Definitely one of the most entertaining characters of his era.

  8. Sam was cool. There were a lot of fun characters around the league back then.

  9. RIP Sam. I remember him more for being on Bill Walsh’s staff and 1981 Superbowl.

  10. Lifelong Bengals fan here: My sincere condolences to the Wyche family. Sam Wyche was one of the most offensive innovators in the history of the NFL. His passing comes as a complete shock, I had no idea he was ill. Sad day indeed.

  11. Wyche was a fun guy, and an excellent offensive-minded coach. I always thought it was a shame he never got another NFL gig after the Bucs. RIP Coach. Sleep well – You have earned your rest.

  12. Kudos to you vecchiaio, you taught me a phrase I’ve never heard but will use in the future and is well placed for Sam.

    Ave Atque Vale (Latin phrase)

    Definition: Hail and Farewell: I salute you, and goodbye — used especially in a eulogy to a hero.

  13. Love that Latin phrase. Never heard it before and will never forget it. How apropos of Sam Wyche. Btw, 49ers v Bengals was one of the best Superbowls ever.

  14. I loved his quote from coaching the Bucs when they were still in the Creamsicle uniforms, something like “When the guy on your helmet is winking at you, you’ve got an image problem.”

  15. Man, this one hurts. R.I.P. Mr. Wyche. I loved how unusual he was. My favorite memories:

    1. Obviously, the “You don’t live in Cleveland” announcement.
    2. When a talented 49er offensive lineman (Steve Wallace) got hurt in the Super Bowl, a mic picked up Wyche say “Aw I hate to see that” despite it giving him a competitive advantage.
    3. When he heard about Tom Coughlin not allowing his players or coaches to wear sunglasses during Florida training camp, he said something to the effect of, “That’s stupid, does he not allow them to get glaucoma, either?”
    4. He supposedly had an ongoing feud with Bill Cowher even after leaving Cincinnati. WHile coaching the Bucs in 1995, during a preseason game against Cowher’s Steelers, he called a fake punt that was executed perfectly. Cowher was livid. I laughed.

    I hope he’s running the sugar huddle up in heaven.

  16. So sorry to see this news, I was always a fan of his candor and personalty, an original in my book

    Rest in Peace Mr. Wyche and condolences to all his family and friends

  17. This guy was and always will be one of my fave coaches. Condolences to all who played for him, his family and friends. He was a class act!

  18. Browns fan here. Guy was hilarious and good for the game. Thought it was funny then and of course was a great coach. RIP coach and prayers to his family and bengal community

  19. Thanks for the Super Bowl pieces Sam. I remember your excitement in the draft room when you saw Sapp and Brooks drop to you. That image is forever etched in my mind.

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