By Jim Gehman
“I was excited and a little bit in disbelief because they were one of the few teams that told me they were not going to draft a kicker,” said Pelfrey, who was raised just over the Ohio River from Cincinnati in Covington, Kentucky. “I had worked out for about 10 teams and two of them told me they were going to draft me. But they weren’t the ones who pulled the trigger.”
The Bengals pulled the trigger, but were a little off target and didn’t enjoy a winning season during the seven years (1993-99) Pelfrey was on the team. Nevertheless, he still experienced memorable moments.
“The best memories obviously beyond the teammates and funny locker room stories would be the game-winning kicks,” Pelfrey said. “I had a game-winning kick on Christmas Eve of 1994 against the Eagles, a 54-yarder with one second left. And then I kicked a 52-yarder with two seconds left to beat the Vikings on Christmas Eve exactly one year later.”
And what makes Pelfrey most proud of his playing career?
“The fact that I felt I worked as hard as anybody. That my team felt like I was going to make game-winning kicks,” he said. “And basically just how I handled myself. I was the Bengals Man of the Year when I was playing. I won that every year that I was eligible for it. That was voted on by the owners and staff for community service.
“To be recognized by all of my teammates and by the other players, I won an award (in 2000) called the Byron “Whizzer” White Award, which is given out by the Players Association (to the player that is just as dedicated off the field as he is on it). Anytime you’re voted on by your peers, the owners and the coaches, you know you’re probably doing your thing.”
Pelfrey’s thing now is being the president and CEO of Propel Company, a business he founded in 2008. Starting out as an investment company, it has evolved into other projects, primarily management type services. Anywhere to events to non-profits to real estate based projects. It works with clients to develop business plans, and expand sales and marketing operations.
“The good thing is days are never the same. There’s always a different challenge,” Pelfrey said. “At the end of the day, the best part of our job is that we’re impacting people’s lives. No day is the same so it’s not like we just do one thing to help people. We do several different initiatives that make an impact.
“When a lot of other people were in classes or doing internships, I was playing sports, so you get behind in that regard. But by having your name and having those kind of things kind of help the learning curve. And so there are benefits and drawbacks.
“As an athlete and your asset is speed then you’ve got to be able to use that. If your asset is strength and power then you try to leverage that. In business you’re learning what assets you have and experiences that you have and you try to leverage those to help you do what you’re trying to do. At the end of the day, I think everybody’s trying to make money, but you’re also trying to have an impact on people’s lives.
“And the fact that I’ve been out of football now for 16 years and that I’ve had my own (Kicks for Kids) Foundation for 20-plus years, I’m starting to see the kind of legacy of helping people over a long period of time. (The Foundation has) given away over $2 million and helped over 50,000 individual people with families, so we’ve been very successful and still consider ourselves part of the fabric of the Cincinnati non-profit community.”