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Sports

The Bengals' first player, John Stofa, has died

john stofa the bengals
Gary Landers
/
AP
Former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback John Stofa waves to the crowd during a halftime 50th anniversary ceremony of an NFL football game against the Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017, in Cincinnati.

John Stofa, the Bengals' first player, died over the weekend. He was 79.

A story on the Bengals' website says Stofa, a school teacher in Daytona Beach, Fla., was known as "The Original Bengal," showing his pride with an Ohio license plate that read "1ST BNGL."

He only played during the Bengals' inaugural season in 1968, as quarterback. 

"He was more than that to a lot of us. Just a really good guy we've known for a long time," said Bengals President Mike Brown. "He had a lot of values we cherish. We admired the way he lived his life."

Team founder Paul Brown traveled to Miami to recruit Stofa from the Dolphins during the 1967 season. When he came to Cincinnati, the only other Bengals were Paul Brown and his son, then-32-year-old assistant general manager Mike Brown.

While he missed the Bengals' first game on Sept. 6, 1968, due to an injury, he started on Sept. 15 against the Denver Broncos and threw touchdown passes to tight end Bob Trumpy and wide receiver Warren McVea, respectively, to record the first touchdown passes in team history. The Bengals won 24-10 at Nippert Stadium.

Stofa, who had Parkinson's disease, made Cincinnati his home even after his time with the Bengals ended.

"Cincinnati is a great town," he said in 2017. "Our children were born here. They made a lot of friends and we made a lot friends here. We built our home here. When I was playing, we'd come back in the offseason."

You can read more about his time with the team on the Bengals' website.