Frank Wycheck, co-star of NFL’s Music City Miracle, dies at 52 after fall

<span>Photograph: Andy Lyons/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Former Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans tight end Frank Wycheck has died at the age of 52.

Wycheck fell outside his family home in Chattanooga on Saturday morning, according to a statement released by his family. He was found unresponsive that afternoon.

“The Wycheck family appreciates the love and support they’ve received, but asks the public to please respect their privacy during this difficult time,” the family said in the statement.

Wycheck is a member of the Titans’ Ring of Honor. He was voted to three Pro Bowls in 1998, 1999 and 2000. He finished his Titans career with 27 touchdowns, 4,958 yards and 283 catches, ranking third in receptions in franchise history. During one stretch, he held a franchise-record with 99 consecutive games with at least one reception.

Initially picked by Washington in the sixth round of the 1993 draft, the Oilers claimed Wycheck off waivers after he was released in 1995. He played 11 seasons in the league, catching 505 passes for 5,126 yards and 28 touchdowns. At the time of his retirement, he ranked fourth all-time among tight ends in career receptions.

Wycheck was known for his role in the ‘Music City Miracle’, one of the greatest plays in NFL history. Trailing 16-15 against the Buffalo Bills with 15 seconds left, Tennessee returned a short kick-off for a game-winning touchdown. The kick was fielded by fullback Lorenzo Neal, who handed the ball to Wycheck. Wycheck threw a lateral across the field to kick-returner Kevin Dyson, who ran 75 yards for the infamous score.

The play – called the ‘Home Run Throwback’ – was devised specifically for Wycheck by special teams coordinator Alan Lowry after discovering the tight end’s throwing ability during practice. The lateral for the Music City Miracle wasn’t his only throw. Wycheck was 5 of 6 for 148 yards and two TDs in his career, posting a perfect passer rating of 158.3.

Titans controlling owner Amy Adams Strunk said the organization was devastated to hear of Wycheck’s death.

“Frank’s name was synonymous with Titans football,” Strunk said in a statement. “He was such a huge part of our team’s success both on and off the field. He embraced this community and fan base immediately, and everyone loved him right back.”

After his playing career, Wycheck was a popular local broadcaster for the Titans. From 2005 to 2017, he worked as the color commentator on the Titans Radio Network, before stepping down due to ongoing head issues.

The family, per Wycheck’s wishes, plans to work with experts for research into the effects of brain trauma on football players.