Longtime Bengals coach Sam Wyche gets a new heart

'Did great' in life-saving surgery
Posted at 8:45 AM, Sep 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-09-13 18:22:59-04

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Former Bengals coach Sam Wyche "did great" during his life-saving heart transplant surgery, according to a post on his Facebook page Tuesday.

A few hours after Wyche, 71, was told he had a week to live, a  donor was found Monday night and Wyche was rushed into surgery at Dickson Heart Institute in Charlotte. The operation lasted 4 1/2 hours. No information about the donor has been released.

Wyche played quarterback for the Bengals from 1968 to 1970 and coached from 1984 to 1991, including the Bengals' last Super Bowl season of 1988. He was the last coach to lead the Bengals to a playoff victory (1991).

 Wyche has had congestive heart failure for the past 16 years, according to his Facebook page. He had a cardiac catheterization last week and doctors said his heart is "weaker than originally thought."

On Monday, Wyche said doctors told him he needed a new heart within the next week. "It's 3rd and long for this team," he said in a post.

But a visitor said Wyche was in good spirits and watching the Bengals-Jets game Sunday.

"When I arrived, Coach Wyche was totally wired up as usual with tubes coming out of 'every portal' as he likes to say," the visitor wrote in a Facebook post. "As no surprise, he was watching the Bengals play the Jets on CBS but on his lap was a play book and he was actually drawing some new offensive plays. Yes, being a very compliant patient, patiently awaiting a donor heart transplant, and 'drawing some new plays.'

"Is that the Sam Wyche we all know? Yes it is. He never changes! He is the most positive person I can imagine," the post read.

Wyche currently lives in Upstate South Carolina. He's coached at Pickens High School in Pickens, South Carolina, not far from his alma mater, Furman University.

Wyche's Bengals were 34 seconds away from winning Super Bowl XXIII,  but they lost to the 49ers 20-16 after Joe Montana threw a game-winning TD pass. Wyche was the franchise's winningest coach until Marvin Lewis surpassed his record 64 wins in 2011.

Wyche will always be remembered for chastising fans who were throwing snowballs on the field during a game at Riverfront Stadium. He grabbed the sideline microphone and yelled, "You don't live in Cleveland, you live in Cincinnati!"

Wyche left the Bengals in a dispute with team owner Mike Brown following a 3-13 season in 1991. He either quit or was fired on Christmas Eve, depending on who you wanted to believe. Wyche later coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

READ about John Popovich's fond memories of Wyche.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said the donor heart was from Oregon; this was incorrect. The story has been corrected and the reporter regrets this error.