The Bengals open the preseason Friday night (7:30-Cincinnati's Channel 12) against Tampa Bay at Paul Brown Stadium and all we really know is that it's going to go a lot more smoothly for Andy Dalton than it did for John Stofa.
Stofa, the original Bengal, is the subject of the latest Hobson's Choice podcast in honor of him taking the first Bengals' snap in their inaugural game during that Whole-World-Is-Watching August of 1968. But it wasn't watching Paul Brown's expansion Bengals and the powerful Chiefs showed why in their 38-14 victory at the University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium.
(That was so long ago it was known as an exhibition and not a pre-season game.)
"We only had the ball for three plays or something," Stofa recalls of the first quarter.
But he says the crowd of more than 21,000 was into it.
"Football in Cincinnati was born," he says. "They knew their football. They knew what they wanted."
Stofa, 75, who settled in Cincinnati after playing just one season as a Bengal, also expounds on:
-Bengals founder and head coach Paul Brown used his famous messenger guard system that night to send plays into Stofa. But Stofa felt like he probably had the best relationship with Paul Brown of anybody on the team. Once Brown sent a first-rounder and second-rounder to get him from the Dolphins on the day after Christmas in 1967, they met frequently in Cincinnati before the season to talk more than football.
- When Brown visited the Dolphins in that 1967 season, Stofa says everyone thought he was there to look at quarterback Rick Norton, a University of Kentucky product who was the second pick in the 1966 draft.
- It was Stofa's second stint on an expansion team in three years. A vagabond minor leaguer, Stofa's varied experience fit Brown's blueprint for a first-year quarterback. The Dolphins didn't exactly have Brown's foresight. They moved to a different facility in the middle of their first training camp.
- Stofa was already a man of the world at 26 on Aug. 3, 1968. After helping actor Alan Alda with his role as writer George Plimpton in the film Paper Lion, he got a bit part. That would follow him around in 1968 since Brown liked to have his team watch a movie the night before a game.
Cincinnati Bengals host Training Camp at Paul Brown Stadium Practice Fields 8/9/2017