While players and coaches are the stars of NFL broadcasts, commentators are a key part of the supporting cast. Guys like Booger McFarland, Cris Collinsworth, and Jim Nantz shape out experience with football; for better or worse, they inform how most fans consume any NFL action. Some announcers, however, have other gigs beyond the broadcast booth.
Cris Collinsworth’s playing career
While Cris Collinsworth isn’t the most popular NFL announcer, he was actually quite a capable football player. The Dayton, Ohio native played quarterback and ran track in high school; that athleticism caught the eye of the University of Florida, and Collinsworth headed south to join the Gators.
Collinsworth joined the Gators as a run-first quarterback, but the Florida offense sputtered during his freshman year. Head coach Doug Dickey went back to the drawing board and decided to run the ball less; as a consequence, Collinsworth moved to wide receiver. Despite the drastic shift, he flourished. By the end of his senior season, he caught 120 passes for 1,937 yards and 14 touchdowns.
Collinsworth made the jump to the pros but didn’t miss a beat with the Bengals. His unique blend of size and speed allowed him to thrive at the highest level; he was able to outmaneuver linebackers and outmuscle smaller defensive backs. During his eight NFL seasons, all with the Bengals, Collinsworth pulled in 417 catches for 6,698 yards and 36 touchdowns. Even today, he’s still well represented in the franchise’s record books.
Moving into the broadcast booth
Collinsworth moved to NBC’s NFL broadcast team in 1990; after the network lost their broadcasting rights, he made the jump to Fox. He slotted into the lead booth, working alongside Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, establishing himself as a big name in NFL color commentary. In 2009, he returned to NBC, replacing the legendary John Madden on Sunday Night Football.
While Collinsworth remains in that role and has piled up countless awards and honors, he’s not solely dependent on Sunday Night football for his income. The former wide receiver actually has another business beyond announcing.
Cris Collinsworth also owns Pro Football Focus
As a media member, Cris Collinsworth was a paying subscriber of Pro Football Focus, an analytics company known for grading every player’s performance on each play. One day in 2012, however, he decided to ask how the sausage was made.
“I typed into the ‘contact us’ section, ‘Are you guys coaches? Who are you?’ ” Collinsworth told Newsday’s Neil Best. “Three minutes later, I get a call from this Brit, Neil Hornsby. As soon as he started talking, all I could think of is, I can’t believe I got hustled out of $26.99 by some con man from England.” The former receiver continued picking Hornsby’s brain and, in 2014, bought a majority share of the company; to this day, he’s still using the company’s stats during Sunday Night Football.
During his playing career, Cris Collinsworth’s size and speed allowed him to be a double-threat as a receiver. While he’s not playing anymore, he’s still a has one-two punch; in addition to covering a game every Sunday night, he’s also profiting from Pro Football Focus.