(The Bengals issued the following statement)
The Bengals are saddened today to learn of the passing of Bill "Tiger" Johnson, whose 17 years as a Bengals coach included three seasons as head coach. Johnson died today at his home in Ft. Myers, Fla., after a long illness.
"Tiger was admired and respected by all during the length of his tenure with the Bengals," said Bengals president Mike Brown. "He was a man's man in every way -- strong, firm and yet lovable at the same time. I could talk for hours about his time here, and his loss hits me in the heart."
Johnson was Bengals head coach in 1976-77 and for the first five games of 1978. His record as head coach was 18-15. He was the second head coach in Bengals history, succeeding Paul Brown. He was on the original Bengals coaching staff in 1968, as offensive line coach under Paul Brown, and he remained in that position until taking over as head coach. He returned to the Bengals in 1985, as tight ends coach under head coach Sam Wyche, and remained in that position through 1990.
He began playing pro football in 1948, after an outstanding college career at Texas A&M, and was a center for nine years with the San Francisco 49ers, where he was voted to the Helms Foundation All-Pro team.
"Tiger played for the 49ers against my dad's Cleveland teams," said Mike Brown, who is Paul Brown's son. "He earned my dad's respect and with it, eventually, the appointment to coach here. His players all respected and looked up to him, and they could not have had a better teacher."
Johnson also coached in the NFL with Tampa Bay (1979-82) and Detroit (1983-84).
A native of Tyler, Texas, Johnson is survived by his wife, Dot, along with three children, four grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Family and close friends will hold a private memorial service on Wednesday of next week in Fort Myers, and a larger service is being planned for Cincinnati in the spring.