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Former Bengals head coach Sam Wyche hospitalized, needs heart transplant

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One of the franchise’s most successful and beloved coaches is in the hospital awaiting a heart transplant.

Sam Wyche

One of the most iconic figures in Cincinnati Bengals history has been hospitalized. Sam Wyche, one of the team’s all-time winningest head coaches, is awaiting a heart transplant at a North Carolina hospital.

“I am in Carolinas Medical Center’s Dickson Heart Unit in Charlotte, NC awaiting donor heart transplant,” Wyche said via his personal website. “If there is no match for a donor heart in the next few days, I will need to have an LVAD (Left Ventricular Assist Device which is an artificial heart pump) implanted below my heart until a donor heart can be obtained. I have outstanding Sanger Clinic physicians and hospital staff taking care of me.”

For those unfamiliar with Wyche, he has a strong history with the Bengals franchise. He went undrafted to Cincinnati in 1968 and played quarterback for the team through 1970. It wasn’t as a player where Wyche would leave the biggest impression on the franchise, though.

During his time as a Bengals player, Wyche worked with Bill Walsh, who would go on to become the legendary 49ers coach. He was working with the receivers and quarterbacks in his time as an assistant with Cincinnati. It was a relationship that would quietly become one of the most interesting ones in league history.

Wyche was hired as an assistant coach on Walsh’s staff in San Francisco back in 1979. He was a big part of the 49ers’ defeat of the Bengals in Super Bowl XVI and stayed on staff through the 1982 season. After a one-year stint as the University of Indiana head coach, the Bengals brought him back to head up their squad in 1984.

After a few up-and-down years, Wyche and quarterback Boomer Esiason led the team to arguably its best one ever in the form of the magical, 12-4 1988 season. It landed them in the Super Bowl, once again going up against Walsh’s 49ers, a game in which the Bengals lost in heartbreaking fashion, 20-16.

Aside from some of the creation of some of the better Bengals’ rosters and spearheading some of their best seasons, Wyche was also known for his bravado and flair. He would go toe-to-toe with former Houston Oilers head coach, Jerry Glanville and famously dogged on the Cleveland Browns while addressing the Bengals’ home crowd over the P.A. system in the middle of a game.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Bengals’ former coach, as we hope for a speedy recovery in whichever procedure he undergoes.