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Cris Collinsworth has passed Howard Cosell for the longest continuous primetime broadcast for an NFL analyst, but he knows the game isn’t about him.


Collinsworth won an Emmy 17 times during his broadcasting career.

Cris Collinsworth will play his familiar role as color analyst alongside play-by-play voice Mike Tirico during the Patriots’ “Sunday Night Football” matchup with the Dolphins.

As a wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1980s, Cris Collinsworth had four 1,000-yard seasons, made three Pro Bowls, played in two Super Bowls and was runner-up to the Saints’ George Rogers for the rookie award. 1981 NFL Offensive Player of the Year.

His playing career was accomplished by just about every non-Jerry Rice-era metric. And yet, for understandable reasons, there is at least one generation of fans, and probably more, who recognize him as a broadcaster first, presuming they are aware of his playing days.

Collinsworth, who will play his familiar role as color analyst alongside play-by-play voice Mike Tirico during the Patriots’ “Sunday Night Football” game with the Dolphins, has now been on prime-time television for nearly twice as long as him. played in the championship.

He appeared on “Sunday Night Football,” which in 2022 was the most-watched prime-time television show for the 12th year in a row, dating back to 2009, when he slotted in alongside Al Michaels after the retirement of John Madden.

Collinsworth’s 15 seasons constitute the longest continuous run on prime-time television ever by an NFL color analyst, surpassing Howard Cosell’s 14 years on “Monday Night Football” from its advent in 1970 until his departure after the 1983 season.

(Cosell often looked like he was doing play-by-play, usually because he was blustering while Frank Gifford was trying to call the play.)

A 17-time Emmy Award winner during his broadcasting career, Collinsworth objected when the primetime record was mentioned.

“There are two things that fans don’t care about at all,” he said. “The first is the amount of money a player makes, so I try to never talk about that. And second, who is the advertiser.

My inbox would strongly disagree with that last sentiment — I think I’m still getting emails about the error-filled Greg Gumbel-Adam Archuleta duo for the Patriots-Dolphins opener last season — but Collinsworth’s point of view is understood. He is the antithesis of Cosell, in philosophy, if not entirely in verbosity. He never wants the game to revolve around him.

“I never take my own role in this whole thing seriously,” he said. “I think the fact that I did 15 years means I’m getting up there in a few years, that’s all it means. But I love what I do. I really, really like it.

Collinsworth’s 15 seasons constitute the longest continuous prime-time run ever by an NFL color analyst, surpassing Howard Cosell’s 14 years on “Monday Night Football.” — (Grant Halverson / Photographer: Grant Halverson/Ge)

Michaels, who worked with Cosell on ABC’s baseball broadcasts in the 1970s and 1980s and was Collinsworth’s partner on “Sunday Night Football” for 13 years, said in an email Friday that the two could not not be more different.

“Cosell played the role of provocateur more than analyst. He was also in a bad mood, especially toward the end of his campaign,” said Michaels, who is in his second season calling Amazon Prime’s Thursday night show and has a senior role at NBC. “Working with him could be fun or painful. In his darkest nights, he would go through an obstacle course.

“Cris was a pleasure to work with. He was always in a good mood and no one ever came so well prepared. Working with Cris could be described in one word: transparent. And I don’t know anyone more loyal. When it feels like a 13-year partnership happened in 20 minutes, you can’t do better.

Collinsworth said he tries to approach his preparation the way coaches do.

“As Tom Brady (who is expected to join Fox’s No. 1 team next year) will discover, rather than preparing on one side of the ball for a team, you have to prepare on six sides of the ball – offense , defense and special teams – for two teams. I’m just trying to get to a point where I can have a decent conversation with the coaches and players and try to learn something I didn’t know before to pass it on to the fans and viewers. If I can do that, I’m happy.

After watching a tape of the Patriots’ 25-20 loss to the Eagles earlier this season, Collinsworth said he thought coordinator Bill O’Brien did a great job putting together an offense that highlights the strengths of quarterback Mac Jones. But Collinsworth directed the majority of his praise at the Patriots defense.

“I thought the defense played well. Not just well, I thought they played well,” he said. “The Eagles are a really difficult team to deal with in a lot of ways. The Patriots coaches came up with some cunning plans. They played a lot of DBs and figured out how to neutralize a quarterback who is a great runner and can be very difficult to deal with.

“The key for me was probably that both corners held up. Against those guys, it was really, really impressive. I came out on that side of the ball saying, “They can be as good as anybody.” »


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