Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels have been hosting Sunday Night Football for 11 seasons. Every week they entertain audiences with their insightful commentary and great on-air chemistry. But are these two friends in real life, or is it all a big show? Let’s go back and find out.
How did Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels meet?
The first time either Collinsworth or Michaels remembers interacting was over 30 years ago when Collinsworth was a Bengals wide receiver in love.
Before the 1988 MLB All-Star game, he approached Michaels in the broadcast booth and asked if he’d help him propose to his girlfriend, Holly Bankemper during the game. Unfortunately, there was a misunderstanding about exactly what Collinsworth wanted, and Michaels denied his request.
Collinsworth ended up proposing to Bankemper on a Bridge over the Ohio River, and actually thanks Michaels for not giving him the proposal he’d planned.
“If somehow I talked him into allowing me to propose to my wife on the Jumbotron, she would have definitely said no,” Collinsworth told USA Today. “And even if she said yes, she would have hated it her entire life.”
Years later, Collinsworth and Michaels found themselves hosting Sunday Night Football together.
Are Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels friends in real life?
The friendship between Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels actually developed out of necessity. When they first started working together, Collinsworth would spend all his time memorizing stats and teams.
But Michaels taught him that it was all about the conversation and chemistry. He finally convinced Collinsworth to start having dinner with him, so they could get to know each other better, and everything improved from there.
“Al kept trying to convince me this is a show,” Collinsworth said. “…from the moment I kind of put down the notes a little bit and started going to dinner, started having a relationship that went beyond, I think just being co-workers or whatever, and even beyond friends to where you really get to know the other guy… What makes him tick.”
Now, Cris Collinsworth and al Michaels are great friends that spend plenty of time together. They have dinner on a regular basis, play golf, and keep up that on-air chemistry.
Friends helping friends
Not only did Michaels teach Collinsworth that a good show depends on the chemistry between broadcasters, but he also feels that Michaels is able to control the broadcast and give the crowd exactly what they want.
“Not one game with Al have I ever thought, “Where are we going?” He controls the tempo of the booth.” Collinsworth told Parade.
But Michaels feels that it comes naturally because the pair has such a great friendship. They’re able to know what the other finds funny, what makes them tick, and that makes a great show.
One thing fans may not know about the pair, they have an important pre-game ritual. Collinsworth always lets Michaels write his opening on-camera. But it’s always a big debate between them. ” Al will come out and go, ‘Are you ready for your opening on-camera?'” Collinsworth told Parade.
“And I’m like, ‘Have you written it yet?’ We go back and forth for about five minutes—’no don’t say this,’ ‘yeah let’s cover that’—and then we just throw it out there.”
The fact that these two football buffs are great friends is what makes their show so entertaining. It’s not something they’d be able to fake. The audience would see right through it and they wouldn’t keep tuning in. Without the chemistry between them, the show would fall flat. But instead, after 11 seasons they’re still going strong.