CINCINNATI -- After nearly four decades of waiting, Steve Kinney finally got to sit in the stands and watch his beloved Bengals.
The 58-year-old Connecticut resident came to town this weekend to watch his favorite team play after he became an Internet sensation for an emotionally charged video of him receiving Bengals swag from his son went viral.
In the video, Steve’s son, Brian, a 26-year-old New York Giants fan, hands his father various birthday gifts including a Bengals cap, a signed Andy Dalton jersey, airline tickets, a hotel room and passes to Sunday’s Jets-Bengals game at Paul Brown Stadium. He had never seen an NFL game before.
The video was filmed by one of Steve's daughters, Kelly. Brian and his siblings then posted to YouTube and the Bengals Reddit forum against their embarrassed father's wishes earlier this month .
It went viral immediately.
Within 48 hours of the Dayton, Ohio native breaking down and embracing his son on camera, more than 100,000 viewers had watched the video.
“I posted it at 8 p.m. Sunday night, and when I woke up Monday morning I had 145 emails and the video had thousands of comments,” Brian told the Dayton Daily News . “It’s gone multi-national. It’s global. I actually had to go on Google Translate to read some comments in Portuguese from Brazil, and I had to do the same thing with Icelandic because we actually were featured as the top story on the No. 1 newspaper in Reykjavik.”
As it currently stands, there have been nearly half a million clicks on the video.
If you ask the Kinneys, the response to the video has had nothing do with sports, football teams or Steve's over-the-top reaction to getting tickets to watch a team some still playful refer to as "the Bungles." They attribute it to one simple thing to which everyone can relate: love.
"I mean, some of the comments that I've read are about people saying they cried when they saw the video. Others said they went over and picked up the phone and called their dad (after watching it)," Steve said. "It's about the love."
One person who has seen the video is the Bengals director of business development, Bob Bedinghaus.
According to the Dayton Daily News article, seeing the video made Bedinghaus want to reach out to the Kinney family to do what was in his power to make their trip to Cincinnati “a little extra special.”
In addition to eccentric restaurateur Jeff Ruby treating them to dinner at his steakhouse on Seventh Street on Saturday night, the family was invited by the organization to walk on the field prior to the game and to sit in upgraded seats during the contest.
Bedinghaus also set up a few additional game-day surprises, including introducing them to several Cincinnati players after their 49-9 victory over the Jets, a team both Steve and Brian were happy to root against.
Though he was excited to interact with the team he has followed from afar since 1968, Steve said what thrilled him most was the way the local chapter of Who Dey Nation embraced him and his family.
The Kinneys also toured downtown Cincinnati and some of the surrounding areas to see what had changed since his last trip to southwest Ohio. The past two days were the first Steve had spent in state in what felt like forever to him.
"(It's not just) the first time I've been here to see a Bengals game, first time I've been to Paul Brown Stadium. (It's the) first time I've been back to Ohio in 16 years," he said. "(I'm thankful) to be surrounded by so many good people who i wouldn't be here without."
His relationship to his hometown region and the people who call it home means a lot to Steve, whose family left Dayton many years ago after his 2-year-old brother Tommy died of cancer. After a stay in Texas they eventually settled in Connecticut.
While he met his wife Robin and started his family in the Nutmeg State, part of Steve has never left the Queen City. And although his love for the Bengals hasn’t faltered over the past four decades of athletic ebbs and flows, life hasn’t allowed him to make it back to the Tri-State for a game.
“I continued to follow the Bengals wherever I went, but with a young family of my own I was never able to find the time or money to get back to Ohio to see a game,” he told the Dayton Daily News.
Knowing that touching story, fans from across the area are trying to do their best to make it feel as though Steve and his family never left his childhood home on Bryn Mawr Drive.
Steve and Brian say they received more 100 invitations from Bengals fans to visit their pre-game tailgate parties, including one from Nancy Brown.
If that name sounds familiar it should. She’s the wife of Mike Brown, the Bengals president.
Steve reportedly laughed when she promised his family brownies.
“This whole thing has already been over-the-top
memorable, so I can’t even imagine what it’s going to be like when we actually get there,” Steve told the Dayton Daily News before the game.
While they said before the game the experience had already exceeded their expectations, Steve and his family had one additional request for the Bengals organization.
They family asked the team to donate a few extra pieces of merchandise autographed by players because they wanted to hold a raffle to benefit a cause near to Steve's heart.
The Kinney's say they’ll donate the proceeds to St. Jude’s Children's Research Hospital to help fight cancer in honor of Steve’s brother Tommy.
You can read the entire Dayton Daily News article at the following link: /www.mydaytondailynews.com/news/sports/bengals-fans-viral-video-has-touching-local-back-s/nbRwD/?icmp=daytondaily_internallink_textlink_apr2013_daytondailystubtomydaytondaily_launch
9 On Your Side's Shannon Kettler contributed to this report.