While he’s no longer taking the field as a player, Cris Collinsworth is still a pretty big name on the NFL scene. The former Cincinnati Bengals receiver owns ProFootball Focus and serves as NBC’s top color commentator on Sunday Night Football. It’s in that latter role that Collinsworth has recently made some negative headlines.
During early December, Cris Collinsworth put his foot in his mouth when he seemed to imply that most women don’t know anything about football. When the Steelers visited the Buffalo Bills during Week 14, the sports media member raised some additional eyebrows with another factually-inaccurate comment.
Cris Collinsworth has had a solid career, both as a player and a broadcaster
It’s pretty tough to earn a living in professional sports, whether that means taking the field as a player or working as a member of the media. Cris Collinsworth, however, has done pretty well for himself on both sides of the equation.
While Collinsworth started his football career as a quarterback, he shifted to wide receiver in college; thanks to his blend of size and speed, he proved to be a mismatch nightmare for opposing defenses. He played well enough at the University of Florida to join the Cincinnati Bengals in the second round of the 1981 NFL draft.
Although the receiver only spent eight seasons in the pros, he still posted some impressive numbers. Collinsworth pulled 417 catches, good for 6,698 yards and 36 touchdowns, before calling it a career and transitioning into the media.
After his playing days came to an end, Collinsworth started appearing on a local radio station; that led to a spot on Inside the NFL as a reporter. Before long, he started calling games on TV and, after John Madden retired, Collinsworth slid into the Sunday Night Football booth.
Making headlines for the wrong reasons
As someone who talks for three hours straight every Sunday night, Cris Collinsworth can’t avoid making the occasional headline. While most are relatively harmless—fans love how he ‘slides’ into the booth, for example—the color commentator was recently put on blast after some unfortunate phrasing.
During the Baltimore Ravens-Pittsburgh Steelers game that was originally supposed to take place on Thanksgiving, Collinsworth tried to explain just how much the Steel City loves their football team. While that might sound all well and good, he inadvertently drifted into gender stereotypes.
“Everybody’s a fan. In particular, the ladies that I met,” Collinsworth said in the booth. “They have really specific questions about the game, and I’m like, ‘Wow,’ you’re just blown away by how strong the fans are here in this town.”
Social media quickly pointed out that women liking football shouldn’t surprise anyone, let alone someone who travels around the country calling games. Collinsworth later apologized on Twitter, saying that he meant to praise the city of Pittsburgh, not insult anyone.
Cris Collinsworth raised eyebrows again during Week 14
During Week 14, Cris Collinsworth called another Pittsburgh Steelers game, this time as the team traveled to Buffalo to meet with the Bills. In a bit of deja vu, the color commentator made another comment that raised eyebrows on social media.
When talking about a trip to Niagara Falls, Collinsworth said that he “loved it” and “didn’t know that Toronto was right there.” While there’s nothing wrong with that sentiment—especially compared to his comments about women following football—there was still an issue, as spotted by geography buffs and Canadians alike.
Toronto is roughly 100 miles from the falls; it might be pretty close in the grand scheme of things, but it’s certainly not ‘right there’ within eyeshot. It’s possible that he confused Niagara Falls’ Skylon Tower with Toronto’s CN Tower but, beyond that and being in Ontario, the two cities don’t have much in common.
In this case, though, there’s nothing wrong with cutting Cris Collinsworth some slack; it’s easy to make a factual error when you’re talking for three hours straight on live TV. In the future, though, the color commentator might want to avoid Pittsburgh Steelers games. They seem to be a bit of a jinx.