Frank Wycheck, Former Titans TE Who Sparked ‘Music City Miracle,’ Dies

Frank Wycheck, the former NFL tight end who played a crucial role in the “Music City Miracle,” died on Saturday. He was 52.

According to a statement from his family released on Sunday, “at this time, it appears Wycheck fell inside his Chattanooga, Tennessee, home and hit his head on Saturday morning. He was found unresponsive that afternoon.”

Wycheck, a member of the Tennessee Titans’ Ring of Honor, caught 505 passes for 5,126 yards and 28 touchdowns over his 11-year professional career. The Philadelphia product spent nine seasons with the Oilers/Titans franchise, including all three of his Pro Bowl campaigns from 1998-2000. At the time of his retirement, Wycheck, a sixth-round pick by Washington in 1993, ranked fourth all-time among tight ends in career receptions.

“I did everything I set out to do and much more,” Wycheck said at his retirement press conference. “From a guy who wasn’t even supposed to be in a training camp, let alone to where I ended up, I’m truly proud and I couldn’t ask for anything more. It’s been a truly great ride.”

Frank Wycheck
Former player Frank Wycheck of the Tennessee Titans is seen on December 14, 2014, in Nashville, Tennessee. Wycheck died on Saturday at the age of 52, his family announced.
Wesley Hitt/Getty Images/Getty Images

But the signature moment of the tight end’s professional career came on special teams.

The fan-favorite memorably threw a cross-field lateral on a kickoff return in the final seconds of a 2000 AFC Wild Card game against the Buffalo Bills. The Bills had just kicked a field goal to take a one-point lead with 16 seconds remaining. On the ensuing kickoff return, the Titans went with their “Home Run Throwback” play, which saw Wycheck draw Buffalo players onto the right side of the field before lateraling the ball to Kevin Dyson, who collected the throw and ran 75 yards to the end zone for a miraculous game-winning touchdown.

To commemorate the league’s 100th anniversary in 2019, NFL Network counted down the “NFL’s 100 Greatest Plays.” The “Music City Miracle,” a play still debated as to whether the pass was forward or not, came in at No. 4.

Football fans have shared the play on X, formerly Twitter, to remember Wycheck.

A variety of other social media posts have been made in his memory.

On X, the Titans said the franchise mourns “the loss of a beloved member of our Titans family.” The Maryland football program, where Wycheck played collegiately, said it “mourns the loss of Terrapin legend Frank Wycheck. Our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Former NFL quarterback Rich Gannon added on X, “Saddened to hear of the passing of my friend and former teammate Frank Wycheck. Great man gone way too soon! RIP brother.”

After Wycheck’s playing career, he did color commentary for Titans Radio and was a popular sports talk radio host in Nashville. The Titans legend was inducted into the Tennessee Sports Hall of Fame in 2013 and was honored as the “12th” Titan prior to the 2013 regular-season opener.

Read more sports news from Newsweek

“Overall, I think he was one of the top players ever to play for us because of what he did both on and off the field,” late Titans owner Bud Adams said when Wycheck retired.

Multiple concussions contributed to Wycheck’s decision to retire at 32 after the 2003 season.

Wycheck is survived by his two daughters, Deanna and Madison, and three grandchildren—Leo, Stevie, and August. The family said, per Wycheck’s wishes, it plans to work with experts for on-going brain injury and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) research.