Stanley Wilson was an unheralded ninth-round pick out of Oklahoma in 1983 yet flashed enormous potential in his rookie year, averaging 4.8 yards per carry and 8.9 yards per reception in limited action. But he played only one game in 1984 and missed all of the 1985 and 1987 seasons for violating the league’s substance abuse policies.
But his biggest impact came in 1988, when he teamed with Ickey Woods and James Brooks in the backfield for over 500 yards of total offense. But it was the night before Super Bowl XXIII when Wilson’s personal demons truly impacted the franchise.
As the club gathered for its final team meeting, Wilson’s roommate Eddie Brown told the coaches Wilson was in the room, but would not come down.
“Sam (Wyche) sent Jim Anderson and I think Bill Connelly, the trainer at that time, up to Stanley’s room and they found him in the bathtub naked, coked out of his mind,” Bengals offensive coordinator Bruce Coslet said. “So they got him dressed, called the paramedics, we’re taking him to the hospital, and he ran away. He literally ran down the steps of the hotel and gone before he got in the ambulance. I never saw him again. They didn’t find him for three or four days, I guess.”
Wilson’s relapse forced Wyche to address the club with the news the night before the biggest game of their lives.
“Sam comes in, tears in his eyes, and the first thing we thought man, Stanley, maybe something happened to him – his life,” Fulcher said solemnly. “Obviously it was his life.”
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