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Missing Bengals football returned to Mt. Lookout Tavern after misunderstanding

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Posted at 11:54 PM, Jan 17, 2022

CINCINNATI — Call it a Who Dey whodunit: Mt. Lookout Tavern's game day ball has been returned and it turns out the whole thing was a simple misunderstanding.

Following Saturday’s historic win over the Las Vegas Raiders, Head Coach Zac Taylor drove to three local bars/restaurants to deliver game footballs. It was the team’s first playoff win in 31 years.

Among the stops were Walt’s Hitching Post in Fort Wright, Pontiac in Over-the-Rhine, and Mt. Lookout Tavern in Mt. Lookout.

Daniel Love, kitchen manager for Mt. Lookout Tavern said the atmosphere was electric when Taylor walked through the door.

“We’re already wall to wall," he said. "It was great. It was a game like environment, yeah,”

After a short speech, Taylor threw the ball into the crowd of fans.

Enter bar patron Bryan Smith.

“Once he threw the ball, you couldn’t hear what was going on,” Smith said. “(The ball) got tipped around. I caught it. I had people come to me saying 'congrats on getting the ball.' People were taking pictures of me with the ball.”

The crowd was rowdy and loud and Smith said he didn't hear the announcement that the game football was intended to stay inside the bar as a keepsake.

Bryan Smith game day ball
Smith caught on camera catching the ball after Zac Taylor threw it to the crowd of fans following the Bengals playoff win against the Raiders.

Instead, he took it home to show off to friends and family. One day later, he discovered he was the subject of a viral social media post as the restaurant sought to find who took the game ball away minutes after it was delivered.

Once he saw the post, he went straight to the video evidence.

“I watched the videos posted online. Videos showing someone within arms reach of Zac Taylor. I could hear it saying the ball was supposed to stay at the bar,” Smith says.

It was at that point Smith called Mt. Lookout Taver.

“They were amazed it turned up. They were expecting someone to sell it or get rid of it,” he added, “Once I called, they were more shocked the ball was being brought back."

The suspected stolen game ball was simply only intercepted before it was returned for a special touchdown; the ball is now back where Taylor intended for it to be in Mt. Lookout Tavern.

As for its current location?

"It's secured at the moment," said Love.