Sam Wyche, who led the 1988 Cincinnati Bengals to Super Bowl XXIII, died at 74 on Thursday from cancer, according to several sources.
Wyche, a former player with the Bengals from 1968 to 70, served the team’s head coach from 1984 to 1991 and led Cincinnati to the playoffs on two occasions – 1988 and 1990.
The pinnacle of Wyche’s coaching career came during the ’88 season when his Bengals nearly defeated his mentor Bill Walsh and the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XXIII. San Francisco narrowly defeated Cincinnati 20-16 after a touchdown catch by receiver John Taylor with just 34 seconds left.
One of the game’s most poignant moments came following its conclusion. Wyche walked off with Walsh, in what turned out to be his final game as 49ers head coach.
The Super Bowl showdown against the 49ers had special meaning. Wyche, who knew Walsh from his days as a player in Cincinnati, spent three years an assistant coach with the 49ers from 1979 to 1982.
Following his time in Cincinnati, Wyche was the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1992 to 1995.
Wyche is still the last head coach in Bengals history to lead the franchise to a playoff win – a 41-14 victory over the Houston Oilers in January 1991.
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