Longtime Tennessee Titans tight end Frank Wycheck died in his home in Chattanooga, Tennessee Sunday. He was 52. A family statement says he fell, hit his head, and was later found unresponsive. The former NFL player was instrumental in one of the most iconic plays in history.
An 11-year NFL veteran, Wycheck signed with the then-Houston Oilers in 1995. He'd spend the rest of his career with the Oilers as they moved to Tennessee in 1997 and became the Titans in 1999. He made three Pro Bowl teams from 1998-2000 and led the team in catches in each of those seasons.
The Tennessee Titans mourn the loss of a beloved member of our Titans family, Frank Wycheck 💙 pic.twitter.com/3XoR3HXBle
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) December 10, 2023
"Frank was beloved by everybody," former Titans wide receiver Derrick Mason said. "After he retired, Frank was one of those guys if you saw him at an event, it was a good time. He was one of the guys that I wanted to see. There was just something about Frank that drew you in."
Beyond his demeanor in the locker room and off the field, Wycheck's name will forever be part of NFL history with his role in one of the sport's most iconic moments: the Music City Miracle.
Greatest plays in NFL history: 'Immaculate Reception', 'The Catch' at the top
What was the Music City Miracle?
The Titans faced off against the Buffalo Bills on Saturday, Jan. 8, 2000 in Nashville. Tennessee was favored to win the first game of the Wild Card round over the Bills but were down 16-15 with just 16 seconds left in the game. Buffalo kicker Steve Christie's 41-yard field goal gave the Bills the lead late. Christie booted the ensuing kickoff in Adelphia Stadium high and short to force a return.
In this situation, the team ran a play called "Home Run Throwback." Fullback Lorenzo Neal caught the kick initially but handed Wycheck the ball around the 25 and looked to set a block for the tight end.
After a few steps, Wycheck hesitated and lateraled the ball to the other side of the field to wide receiver Kevin Dyson. The Titans' wideout then turned upfield and sprinted along the sideline behind multiple blockers and ran all the way to the end zone.
Thanks to Wycheck's heads up play, the Titans secured the team's first playoff win since moving from Houston and secured a spot in the AFC's Divisional round of the 1999 playoffs.
— Four Verts 🏈 (@FourVerticals_) December 10, 2023
Music City Miracle legacy
Tennessee went on to beat Indianapolis 19-16 in the AFC Divisional round a week later and won 33-14 in the AFC Championship game over Jacksonville. The Titans played the then-St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV, the franchise's first championship game in nearly 40 years. Without Wycheck's play and the Music City Miracle, the Titans aren't playing in that game.
The Music City Miracle: An oral history of one of NFL's most memorable plays
Tennessee fell just short in Super Bowl XXXIV. The game came down to the final play and Dyson came up short on scoring a game-tying touchdown. But the Music City Miracle remained etched into playoff lore regardless of a Super Bowl title.
The NFL ranked the Music City Miracle fourth among the greatest plays in the sport's history. Only the Immaculate Reception, The Catch, and David Tyree's helmet catch were ranked ahead of it, putting Wycheck's throw among the greatest in NFL history.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Remembering the Music City Miracle and Frank Wycheck's throw