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Another first down for Sam


New heart. Same passion.

Or in the world of Samuel David Wyche, the Bengals Super Bowl coach, that means sticking with the same game plan.

Wyche, in no particular order the master of the no huddle, worthy causes, and unshakeable beliefs, had been home less than a day with a new heart Friday afternoon when he summed it up the only way he can.

"It's like getting nine-and-a-half yards on first down," Wyche said Friday around lunch from his Pickens, S.C. home. "You can either take a shot or go off tackle and you'll eventually get it. Right now, I'm going off tackle."

Which is just fine because a week ago Wyche, 71, was lurching between life and death and it was only in the last couple of days he found out how close he was to death. Hours from renal failure, from which he would never be able to recover, Wyche heard his doctor tell him there was no heart that matched.

"At that point, I wouldn't make it,' Wyche said. "Then four or five hours later he comes back into my room and says, 'Good news. There's a heart.' They said it was the best they'd ever seen and it looks like a perfect match. I feel pretty good. It's a miracle."

The heart could still be rejected but  optimism abounds.  He can't drive for three months and he says he has to be careful for the next six to eight weeks and may have to wear a surgical mask at some outside venues.

But Wyche sounded like he had both hearts with his signature enthusiasm as he energetically recounted his siege in the hospital, the impending publication of his memoirs, and his plan to work for the cause of organ donation.

"Donate every part of you that you can," Wyche said. "It's the reason I'm alive. I'm going to do whatever I can to get the word out. Sign that driver's license and support it."

His memoirs, Third and Forever: The Coach Sam Wyche Story, should be out some time next year and this last week should supply a nice afterword. But it's not going to replace the first chapter of the book, which deals with his Christmas Eve departure from the Bengals in 1991.

"Third down is the big down. You either make a first down and keep going or you punt," Wyche said. "Life is the same way. You have to make some tough decisions and it's about overcoming obstacles. I was lucky that I had good people around me and didn't have to punt much."

And, of course, he'll always talk Bengals as only a charter member of the Bengals who went on to head coach the club for eight years can talk Bengals.

"Sure. We'll turn that on," Wyche said of Sunday's Paul Brown Stadium opener against Denver. "You've still got some of the best personnel around. They'll get on a winning streak and win a few games and people will wonder what the fuss is about."

It sounds like he's already got the first down.

Cincinnati Bengals host practice at Paul Brown Stadium practice fields 9/22/2016

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