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Former Bengals Coach Sam Wyche Speaks on Behalf of First Shot

sam wyche
sam wyche

Sam Wyche, one of the two coaches to take the Bengals to their only two Super Bowl appearances and considered to be the father of the no-huddle offense, said something once that will will live on long after he's gone and could possibly be what he's best known for, especially in Ohio. In 1989, during a game against the Seahawks, Bengals fans became upset with a call made by the officials and began throwing bottles and other trash out on the field.

Wyche took the microphone from one of the referees and yelled at the crowd, "YOU DON'T LIVE IN CLEVELAND, YOU LIVE IN CINCINNATI!"

Those words became famous and helped fuel the rivalry between the Browns and Bengals for years to come, and when it comes to fueling a rivalry, it's right up there with Woody Hayes not buying gas in Michigan.

Now Wyche makes his "date money" as a keynote speaker and most recently as the voice of Sneaker Ball, a benefit for First Shot.

First Shot, which is a local organization that benefits local clinics and camps for children, didn't have to work hard to get Wyche to speak at their event, which included a golf tournament and had a crowd of over 300 people, because the cause is close to his heart.

"I work with about five agencies and basically that's how I earn my date money," Wyche said. "I work with some pretty big outfits that have a lot of contacts, and they'll call me on an exclusive basis. Whether it's a sales seminar for Toyota, or whatever, I do a lot of things like this.

"But when (former MTSU and longtime NFL quarterback) Kelly Holcomb called me and asked me if I would do this, I said yes. I'm doing it because I want to be here and I believe in the cause."

Andy Hurzer, a former MTSU assistant basketball coach is the president of First Shot and has put on numerous clinics for underprivileged children over the years and also runs a youth basketball league. He tries to not only teach athletic skills to kids, but life skills as well, all in a Christian environment.

"I've always been a Sam Wyche fan," Herzer said. "But he's my No. 1 guy now. For him to take his time to come to our community and speak tonight, and to do it for free — I can't put into words how much I appreciate it. A lot of kids will benefit from this event today. I can't thank him enough and I can't thank the people who support First Shot enough."

Wyche's passion to help underprivileged children comes from knowing that children are put in unfair situations that they didn't create and have no control over.

"We have kids growing up in situations that they did not create," Wyche said. "My point to the supporters at events like (Friday) night is for them to recognize that these underprivileged kids are part of our greater family. They go to school with your kids, and they're going to be sitting right beside your kids at school.

"They're going to be competing for the same jobs one day, and when we help them out, we're helping our communities and our country's future."

No matter what Wyche has done since his days as the Bengals coach that took them to Super Bowl XXIII in 1989, he can't seem to live down what he said about Cleveland during that game against the Seahawks. He said he's tried to mend fences but ESPN just won't let it go.

"ESPN won't let it go away," Wyche quipped. "I actually make fun of it and enjoy the moment because NFL Films has rated it the third most famous comment in the history of the NFL.

"After I said it, I went back to Cleveland to mend fences that spring. Bernie Kosar and his father and the big guy in the 'Dog Pound' organized an event and we raised $11,000 one afternoon for the Family Crisis Center.

"They put me in a dunking booth downtown in March. It was a typical cold March day. I drew a pretty big crowd to it. I tried to bark at the crowd since we beat them twice that year.

"I said, 'Ye without a win, cast the first bone.' Next thing I know they're throwing the dog bones and knocking me into the water. I shivered my way through it."