After winning the A.F.C. Championship for only the second time in their history, the Bengals lost, 20-16, to Walsh’s 49ers in Super Bowl XXIII. The 49ers sealed the victory when Montana tossed a 10-yard touchdown pass to John Taylor with 34 seconds remaining. (The Bengals have never returned to the Super Bowl.)
Known as a fiery and hard-driving coach willing to go against the grain, Wyche made waves for another, more embarrassing reason two years later. In October 1990, the N.F.L. fined Wyche $27,000, a record for a coach, for preventing a female reporter, Denise Tom of USA Today, from entering the team’s locker room. He was unrepentant, saying that women shouldn’t be able to walk in on players while they were naked.
“No amount of fine will force me to change my conviction on this matter,” he told reporters. “We need to find a way for women to have a decent and open access to all these athletes. The commissioner feels like it’s more important to fine me than to seek another solution.”
Wyche had been fined twice before, once for knocking a microphone out of a reporter’s hand and once for barring all reporters from the team’s locker room after a loss. The third fine, though, came just weeks after another reporter, Lisa Olson of The Boston Herald, complained that she had been surrounded by several naked players in the New England Patriots’ locker room and verbally abused.
Wyche’s willingness to buck convention extended to the field. He ran up the score on opponents, once ordering an onside kick even though his team was ahead 45-0. He was also outspoken. He criticized fans in Cleveland for throwing debris on the field and implored fans in Cincinnati to stop throwing snowballs.
After a 3-13 finish in 1991, Wyche, with several years remaining on his contract, left Cincinnati for Tampa, where he coached the Buccaneers for four seasons. Though he led the Bengals during one of the franchise’s more successful stretches, he had only a 61-66 record there (plus 3-2 in the playoffs) and a 23-41 record in Tampa.
He was quarterbacks coach for the Buffalo Bills in 2004 and 2005, then moved to Pickens, where he volunteered as a quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator for the town’s high school team.