Frank Wycheck, who threw the lateral in ‘Music City Miracle,’ dies at age of 52

by Gabriel Martinez
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NFL Legend

Frank Wycheck, the renowned three-time Pro Bowl tight end famous for his pivotal role in the “Music City Miracle,” has passed away at the age of 52. Wycheck’s contribution to the Tennessee Titans’ historic run to their lone Super Bowl appearance in franchise history will forever be etched in NFL lore.

Tragically, Wycheck met his untimely end at his Chattanooga residence, following an apparent fall that resulted in a head injury on a Saturday morning. The heartbreaking news was confirmed by a statement from his family, which was released through the Legacy consulting firm. It was on the subsequent Saturday afternoon that Wycheck was discovered.

In accordance with his wishes, Wycheck’s family intends to collaborate with experts in the field of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) research and the study of ongoing brain injuries (TBI). Funeral arrangements are yet to be finalized.

During his illustrious NFL career, spanning 11 seasons, Wycheck faced the grim reality of two concussions within a single month in 2003. Despite being under contract and nurturing aspirations of securing a Super Bowl ring, he made the difficult decision to retire. In his own words, “The physical stuff you can’t hide from… it could prove to be fatal.”

The iconic “Music City Miracle” remains one of the most memorable moments in NFL history. Occurring with just 16 seconds left in an AFC wild-card game on January 8, 2000, this touchdown return, which ultimately ranked fourth among the NFL’s greatest plays during the league’s centennial celebrations in 2019, unfolded in a breathtaking fashion. Lorenzo Neal fielded a kickoff and lateraled it to Wycheck, who, with a flick of his wrist, sent the ball across the field to Kevin Dyson. Dyson’s lightning-fast sprint of 75 yards secured a stunning 22-16 comeback victory over the Buffalo Bills.

To this day, Buffalo fans argue that the lateral pass was, in fact, a forward throw. However, Wycheck remained resolute in his belief that it was a lateral. In his words, “Just flick it back… that was like the illusion of it.”

The Titans’ remarkable journey continued with victories on the road in Indianapolis and Jacksonville in the AFC championship game, culminating in a heartbreaking loss to the then-St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl 34 in Atlanta.

Wycheck’s NFL career, which commenced in 1993 as a sixth-round pick for Washington, saw him play 137 games for the Titans, setting a team record with at least one reception in 99 consecutive games. He concluded his career with 505 receptions, 5,126 yards, and 28 touchdowns over 155 games, placing him among the elite tight ends of his era, trailing only Shannon Sharpe, Ozzie Newsome, and Kellen Winslow in most catches by a tight end.

Notably, Wycheck showcased his versatility as a passer, completing 5 of 6 attempts for 148 yards and two touchdowns during his career, achieving a perfect passer rating of 158.3.

The Tennessee Titans, where Wycheck made an indelible mark, expressed their grief on social media, describing him as a “beloved member of our Titans family.”

Following his retirement from professional football, Wycheck transitioned into the world of Nashville sports talk radio and served as a color commentator for Titans Radio until the 2016 season. Earlier this summer, the Philadelphia native returned home to be closer to his family, relocating to Chattanooga, where he is survived by two adult daughters and three grandchildren.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about NFL Legend

Who was Frank Wycheck and what is the “Music City Miracle”?

Frank Wycheck was a three-time Pro Bowl tight end in the NFL. He is famous for his role in the “Music City Miracle,” a historic play in NFL history. In this iconic moment, Wycheck threw a lateral pass that led to a game-winning touchdown for the Tennessee Titans in an AFC wild-card game on January 8, 2000.

How did Frank Wycheck pass away?

Frank Wycheck tragically passed away at the age of 52 due to an apparent fall at his Chattanooga home, resulting in a head injury. He was found on a Saturday morning, and his family confirmed the news on the following Saturday afternoon.

What is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) research?

CTE research is the study of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease often associated with repeated head trauma, particularly in contact sports like football. Frank Wycheck’s family has expressed a desire to work with experts in this field to better understand the impact of brain injuries.

How long did Frank Wycheck play in the NFL, and for which teams?

Frank Wycheck enjoyed an 11-season career in the NFL. He began with the Washington team in 1993, was later picked up by the Houston Oilers in 1995, and concluded his career with the franchise that relocated to Tennessee in 1997, where he played for the Tennessee Titans.

What were Frank Wycheck’s career statistics in the NFL?

During his NFL career, Frank Wycheck amassed 505 receptions, 5,126 yards, and 28 touchdowns in 155 games. His reception total was among the highest for tight ends of his era, trailing only Shannon Sharpe, Ozzie Newsome, and Kellen Winslow.

What was the significance of the “Music City Miracle”?

The “Music City Miracle” is one of the most iconic plays in NFL history. It occurred in the final seconds of an AFC wild-card game on January 8, 2000, when Wycheck threw a lateral pass to Kevin Dyson, resulting in a game-winning touchdown. This play marked the start of the Tennessee Titans’ memorable postseason run, which culminated in their lone Super Bowl appearance in franchise history.

What did Frank Wycheck do after retiring from the NFL?

Following his retirement from professional football, Frank Wycheck transitioned into sports talk radio in Nashville and worked as a color commentator for Titans Radio until the 2016 season.

How did Frank Wycheck’s legacy impact the Tennessee Titans?

Frank Wycheck left an indelible mark on the Tennessee Titans, setting team records and contributing significantly to their success, including their memorable Super Bowl run. He is remembered as a beloved member of the Titans family and a legendary figure in the franchise’s history.

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