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Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame 2023: Cris Collinsworth, the Familiar Football Analyst in Primetime

21/11/2023

Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame 2023: Cris Collinsworth, the Familiar Football Analyst in Primetime By Kristian Hern ndez, Senior Editor

Tuesday, November 21, 2023 - 11:29 am

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Hanging up the cleats after a 15-year playing career and going directly into sports broadcasting can be quite daunting, but no one has transitioned as seamlessly as Sports Broadcasting Hall of Famer Cris Collinsworth. Becoming synonymous with immense energy, the expertise of breaking down a play with precision, and the smoothest entrance to a broadcast in the business, the 17-time Sports Emmy Award winner - nine as a game analyst and eight as a studio analyst - is one of the most accomplished talent in sports television.

Cris is among the best to ever work as an analyst on any sport, says NBCUniversal Media Group Chairman Mark Lazarus. He has a truckload of Emmys for his work, but he also happens to be a great friend to many - a giving person who belongs in any Hall of Fame. His inclusion in the Sports Broadcasting Hall of Fame is long overdue.

Collinsworth was born in the official birthplace of aviation: Dayton, OH. Immediately, Collinsworth took flight into a life in sports at an early age. Parented by a pair of educators - his mother Donetta, a teacher, and his father Abraham, a teacher turned principal turned superintendent - he took after his father's athletic pedigree. Abraham was a standout star on the hardwood: he completed his high school career as one of the top scorers in Kentucky high-school basketball history and eventually enrolled in the University of Kentucky, where he won the 1958 national championship over Seattle University. The Collinsworths eventually moved to the state of Florida when Cris was four

Collinsworth made his first appearance on NBC Sports in 1990.

years old, and 10 years later, he attended Astronaut High School in Titusville, FL. With the school being separated by only the Indian River from nearby Kennedy Space Center, he continued his knack for upward trajectory. His most notable achievements include winning the state championship in the 100-yard-dash and being named a high-school All-American quarterback in his senior year in 1976.

With his prowess on the field, Collinsworth earned a scholarship to play college football at a top SEC school 158 miles northwest of home: the University of Florida in Gainesville, FL. Despite his quarterback career only lasting his freshmen season, Collinsworth's best collegiate touchdown happened on his first ever throwing attempt in a Gators uniform. The play in the fourth quarter against Rice University on Sept. 17, 1977, resulted in a 99-yard pass, which is still one of the longest touchdown passes in college football history. In his sophomore season, he moved to wide receiver and ended his college career with three First Team All-SEC selections (1978-1980) and a First Team All-American selection in 1980.

With the Cincinnati Bengals drafting him in the second round of the 1981 NFL Draft, Collinsworth enjoyed a reunion of sorts with his home state with all eight years of his professional career being played in the Queen City. His time in the orange-and-black stripes saw numerous highs, including the then-rookie receptions record with 67 (the total was tied by Tee Higgins in 2020 and broken by Ja'Marr Chase the following year

Collinsworth and NBCUniversal Media Group Chairman Mark Lazarus

with 81), four 1,000-yard seasons, three consecutive Pro Bowls from 1981-1983, and two Super Bowl appearances (Super Bowl XVI in 1982 and Super Bowl XXIII in 1989)..

With his playing days in the rearview mirror, and a short stint as a sports radio talk show host at WLW in Cincinnati, he made his break into the

big time as a reporter on HBO's Inside the NFL in 1989. After one year, Collinsworth experienced his first taste of NBC Sports when he joined as an analyst for the network's NFL and college football broadcasts with play-by-play commentator Tom Hammond in 1990. Collinsworth would shift to the NFL on NBC pregame show with host Greg Gumbel, analysts Joe Gibbs and Mike Ditka, and reporter Ahmad Rashad in 1996. A young Rob Hyland, who is now the coordinating producer of NBC's Sunday Night Football, would join the same company in 1997 as Collinsworth started hitting his stride as a reliable voice behind the microphone.

Cris is one of the most honest and fearless broadcasters of our generation, says Hyland. He is curious, thoughtful, and has a great sense of humor, which all play into his unique ability to make football's most complicated intricacies understandable and enjoyable for 20 million people every Sunday night. With his tireless work making sure we are prepared for every potential scenario, Cris makes everyone he works with better.

Sports Broadcasting Hall of Famers David Hill (left) and Dick Ebersol (right) were key to Collinsworth's success at Fox Sports and NBC Sports, respectively.

With NBC Sports losing their media rights to the NFL in 1998, he joined Fox Sports as an analyst on Fox NFL Sunday. Opting for a return to the booth, he paired up with Sports Broadcasting Hall of Famer Joe Buck in his first year as lead play-by-play commentator and a recently retired Troy Aikman in 2002. Three years later at Super Bowl XXXIX in 2005, Collinsworth would work his first Super Bowl as a broadcaster. In 2006, Collinsworth's stock would rise as he was seen on three separate networks during the NFL season: as co-host of HBO's Inside the NFL, as a studio analyst for NBC's Football Night in America, and as a color commentator for live games on the then three-year-old NFL Network. For many, this is where Collinsworth's success shines the brightest.

Michaels and Collinsworth in the booth of Raymond James Stadium for Rams-Buccaneers in the 2021 NFC
LINK: https://www.sportsvideo.org/2023/11/21/sports-broadcasting-hall-of-fam...
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