Pat McInally played in the NFL as a punter and wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals from 1976 through 1985. But now, as the coach of the Brethren Christian Academy football team in Orange County, Calif., he has a higher responsibility -- his son Jack is the team's quarterback. That caused a problem in McInally's mind, and set a solution in motion.
"I had to figure out a way to not coach my own son at quarterback," he told Yahoo! Sports. "Because I didn't want to alter his relationship. I wanted to enhance his experience."
So, McInally hired offensive coordinator and quarterback coach Ryan O'Hara to spend specific time with his son.
"That's what he brought me here for; he tells me that all the time," O'Hara said. "He just wants to be the dad and the head coach. And we keep that barrier."
"He's perfect -- just like a regular coach," Jack McInally said of his father.
McInally is able to pursue his passion for youth coaching because he came up with the idea for the Starting Lineup sports action figures, a highly successful product.
"I picked up a G.I. Joe one day, and I thought, 'Why don't they make action figures of the football, baseball and basketball players? So, I got my quarterly checks for 13 years, and that's the reason we're able to live where we live and do what we want to do. Not because of football -- it was because of Starting Lineup. Fantastic toy."
The elder McInally is noted for his intelligence -- a noted scholar-athlete at Harvard, he is the only person in NFL history to complete the Wonderlic test, given each year at the NFL scouting combine to gauge basic intelligence, with a perfect score of 50.
"My dad pushed me really hard athletically, but my mom pushed me hard academically," Pat said.
McInally, who wrote a nationally syndicated column for years in which he answered the questions of parents whose children were playing competitive youth sports, now puts those thoughts into motion every day. Coaching the Warriors has become a family affair for the McInallys.
"Our school is very small," Pat McInally said. "Every school we play is two or three times bigger than us. Or 10 times bigger than us. So, my wife tapes all the games and many of the practices. [Daughter] Abby does the water, and she's always on the sideline. It's really fun to share it as a family."
Pat McInally can't emphasize enough that he wants no part of being a Little League parent. He always classified himself as a person who plays football as opposed to a football player, and he imparts that philosophy to those he coaches and mentors.
"It's only part of their lives," McInally said of the game. "And that's how it should be. We have 18 football players who will hopefully stay healthy, and it will work."
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