Former Buccaneers coach Sam Wyche dies at age 74

Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Sam Wyche has died just days short of his 75th birthday.

The news was shared Thursday by the Cincinnati Bengals, the team he played for and also eventually coached to the Super Bowl.

According to the team, Wyche died after a brief battle with recurring melanoma in his adopted hometown of Pickens, South Carolina.

“Sam was a wonderful guy. We got to know him as both a player and a coach,” Bengals president Mike Brown in a statement. “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.”

Wyche coached the Bengals from 1984 through 1991, winning the AFC Central twice and losing to San Francisco in Super Bowl XXIII.

He went on to coach the Buccaneers from 1992 through 1995, never finishing better than third in the division, though he drafted several future stars. He was succeeded by Tony Dungy.

Head Coach Sam Wyche of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers smiles when he realizes that his team is winning in a NFL game against the Los Angeles Rams at Tampa Stadium on December 11, 1994 in Tampa, Florida. Tampa Bay won 24-14. (Photo by Michael J. Minardi/Ge

“We are saddened to hear of the passing of Sam Wyche earlier today," Buccaneers owner Bryan Glazer stated late Thursday afternoon. "Sam’s innovative approach to offense left a lasting mark on the game of football. As our head coach in the early 1990s, Sam was instrumental in drafting cornerstone players such as John Lynch, Derrick Brooks and Warren Sapp, who were all key foundational parts of our eventual Super Bowl championship. The Buccaneers organization sends its heartfelt condolences to his wife, Jane, and the entire Wyche family.”