Sometimes he's not even that—just a person playing. In 1975, an injured McInally limped into his first Bengals camp carrying a Mickey Mouse lunch box, and his teammates claim it has been Looney Tunes ever since. McInally has been known to answer roll call with a Woody Woodpecker laugh. He once appeared at a "Meet the Bengals" luncheon in top hat and tails. He cracked up grim-faced Forrest Gregg, a tough and demanding head coach, by trying to weasel out of grass drills with the line, "Your primitive exercise does not fatigue me cardiovascularly."
"He's one of my favorite people," says a chuckling Gregg, now head coach at Green Bay. "Once Pat realized that I wasn't gonna beat him with a whip and that I had a sense of humor, we got along beautifully. And you'd better have a sense of humor around Pat or he'll drive you crazy."
McInally writes polysyllabic and alliterative come-ons for his teammates to use when picking up girls. ("I yearn to discern the nympholeptic tendencies I believe I perceive you espouse.") He once delighted Mrs. Howard Cosell with a lengthy ramble rebuking her husband for, among other things, "the diminutive dimensions of his Lilliputian comprehension." ("That's my favorite part," Mrs. Cosell said.) "Punning, too," says Brian Rohan, McInally's music lawyer. "He not only punts, he puns."
Biology teacher to class: "Why do toadstools grow in clumps?"
McInally: "Because there isn't mush room."
McInally is just as adept with people. Consider a recent visit to the Gourmet Room, an elegant and very expensive restaurant in downtown Cincinnati. McInally arrives with his wife and is greeted like visiting royalty, even though he is wearing a sweater instead of a jacket. The blind piano player in the foyer recognizes McInally's voice instantly and grins. "You were going to bring me some of your songs." "I will, I will," McInally says. "They're not good enough yet." McInally hails the matre d' the captain, even the waiters, by name. Before ordering, he jumps up from his table and goes to the kitchen to see the chef—"I've got to tell George how to cook my potatoes"—and brings the chef out to meet his wife.
McInally begins dinner this evening with escargots.
The next day, McInally lunches in a downtown storefront, Skyline Chili, but the routine is the same. He greets the manager, the cashier and one of the waitresses by name and signs autographs while downing two plates of chili with spaghetti, half a dozen chili dogs and a glass of milk.
As so often happens with McInally, the question of what he is, as opposed to what he does, comes up. His response is surprising. "This year," McInally says, "I have become a punter."
Come again? Hasn't McInally been the Bengals' punter for almost nine years?