A meeting between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns can't take place without the memory of the classic 1980 game in Cincinnati in which Browns' safety Thom Darden viciously knocked out Bengals wide receiver (and punter) Pat McInally, only to see McInally miraculously come back later and catch a touchdown pass.
Pat McInally began his career as a non-descript fifth round draft choice out of Harvard. A quick look at his career in the NFL and his life after football reveals McInally has had a tremendous impact on the game.
McInally's impact on football actually began before he was even drafted. He was invited to participate in the annual Chicago All-Star game which annually pitted a collection of college all-stars against that year's NFL champions. Facing the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1975, McInally broke his leg in the game, causing him to miss his entire rookie season. That injury was one of the final straws that sealed the fate of the game which had been taking place since 1934.
McInally also gained notoriety for his perfect score on the Wonderlic pre-draft cognitive skills test. To this day, his perfect score is the only recorded perfect score on the test. That caught the attention of Bengals' owner and head coach Paul Brown who valued intelligence as one of the key attributes of his players. Though the broken leg caused 6'7" McInally to slide to the fifth round, he eventually was picked by Cincinnati and enjoyed a ten year career with the team.
McInally left Harvard as the NCAA's leading receiver in 1973. Although he was the team's punter throughout his Cincinnati tenure, he played wide receiver for portions of five seasons in the first half of his career. 1980 was McInally's best season as a wide out, when he started seven games. He caught 18 passes for 269 yards that season and two touchdowns, including the one against the Browns after being knocked out by Darden. For his career, McInally averaged 41.9 yards per punt and gained a Pro Bowl berth in 1981, the same year he and the Bengals went to the Super Bowl.
After his playing career, McInally came up with the concept for the Starting Lineup line of sports action figures. He pitched the idea to Cincinnati-based Kenner toys and the series became an instant hit. Although discontinued in 2001, the figures remain some of the more valuable pieces of memorabilia on the collector's market.
In 2006, the Wonderlic Company named McInally its Director of Marketing and he specialized in helping student-athletes who were preparing for their standardized tests.
This past season, McInally spent his first year as varsity head coach of the Brethren Christian (CA) Warriors where his children attend in Huntington Beach, California. McInally's team qualified for the playoffs, but lost their first round matchup last week 35-7 to Ontario Christian.
Bengals 101 salutes Pat McInally and his successes both during his career as a Bengal and off the field. We wish him well in his new endeavor as a high school coach.
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