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Bengals fans’ viral video has touching, local back story

Shortly after Brian Kinney had surprised his father and brought him to tears with a birthday gift that included airfare, two tickets to a Cincinnati Bengals game and an autographed Andy Dalton jersey, Steve Kinney dried his eyes and asked his son and daughters for one more thing.

“Please do not put this video out on Facebook,” said Steve, a Dayton native who grew up on Bryn Mawr Drive. “I even asked them twice.”

Brian didn’t put the video on Facebook, but he did post it to YouTube as a way to share it with a friend in San Diego.

“I wrote to him and said, ‘You’ve got to check out my dad’s reaction,’ ” Brian said. “He emailed me back and said ‘Dude, I actually cried.’ ”

Realizing how touching the video was even for those outside of the Kinney family, Brian also posted the YouTube link on the Bengals Reddit forum, a small community of about 1,000 users. And from there it exploded.

Within 48 hours the video had more than 100,000 views. Today it’s approaching half a million.

“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 said. “It’s gone multi-national. It’s global. I actually had to go on Google Translate to read some comments in Portguese 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.”

The video begins with Brian, a 26-year-old Connecticut resident and New York Giants fan, giving his dad, a Bengals fan since the team’s inception in 1968, a Bengals hat for his 58th birthday while the family is gathered around the television for their Sunday ritual of watching football together.

A little while later Brian pulls out an autographed jersey of his dad’s favorite player, Andy Dalton. Then comes the big surprise, an envelope with airfare, hotel reservations and two tickets to the Bengals-Jets game Oct. 27 at Paul Brown Stadium.

“When I saw the tickets, that pushed me to the edge,” said Steve, who was the best man at Brian’s wedding. “When I finally realized where it all came from, that’s when it really hit me. That’s what pushed me over the edge, because it’s all about the love.”

The themes of love and family, more so than football, are what have caused the video to go viral, with many of the people leaving comments admitting they were crying right along with Steve.

A lot of the comments were from people saying the video inspired them to reach out and do something special for someone they love.

“I think we struck a really big chord here,” Brian said. “We’ve affected tens of thousands of people, and just going to bed every night thinking about that is such a wonderful thing.”

Even Dalton said he was touched by the video.

“It shows the kind of platform that guys in the NFL, guys that play professional sports, have,” he said. “Really it shows you that you can make a positive impact on people. To see how excited he was to get to come to a game, to get my jersey, it’s special. To have a positive impact on people that you don’t know, it’s a special feeling.”

The video, which is shot by Brian’s older sister Kelly, ends with father and son standing alone in the kitchen and Steve getting emotional all over again as he talks about how he’s never had the chance to go to an NFL game.

He became a Bengals fan at age 13 as soon as the franchise was founded. But a few months later his 2-year-old brother Tommy died of cancer, and the family moved from Dayton to Texas to put that dark time in their lives behind them.

They eventually relocated to Connecticut, where Steve married Robin and started a family of their own.

“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 said.

“I’m just so happy I could make my dad overjoyed like that,” said Brian, who recently started his own web design company called Revolution Development. “To finally be able to actually afford it and be able to do this for my dad, it’s huge for me.”

In addition to the thousands of touching comments the video has generated are more than 100 invitations from Bengals fans asking Brian and Steve to visit their tailgate party before the game, including one from Nancy Brown, the wife of Bengals president Mike Brown.

“She promised us brownies,” Steve laughed. “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.”

Bob Bedinghaus, the Bengals director of business development, reached out to the Kinneys the day after seeing the video.

“I thought it was a great, heartwarming, father-and-son moment,” Bedinghaus said. “I wanted to let them know what a cool thing I thought it was that Brian had done, and we wanted to make their trip a little extra special, more than just coming to the game.”

The Bengals are treating the Kinneys to dinner at Jeff Ruby’s Steakhouse the night before the game, inviting them to be on the field before the game and upgrading their seats. Bedinghaus also said a few more surprises are in the works.

As overwhelmed as the Kinneys have been with the team’s generosity, Steve couldn’t help but request one more thing.

“I asked Mr. Bedinghaus if he could get us some team gear autographed by the players so we could auction or raffle it off and donate the money to St. Jude’s as a thank you for what they did for our family during Tommy’s battle with cancer,” said Steve, adding that he hopes to have time to visit Tommy’s grave in Dayton next weekend.

“Brian and I are very excited to give back to the City of Cincinnati, St. Jude’s, Bengals fans, owners and coaches in every way we can,” Steve added. “We can’t wait to get there to meet everybody in person and thank them.”

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