Cris Collinsworth played in the first two Bengals’ Super Bowls and, now in their third, he will be in the booth, next to Al Michaels, on NBC’s broadcast Sunday.
“I’m kind of filling out the trifecta here for them,” Collinsworth said during a phone interview.
Collinsworth, 63, still lives half the year in Cincinnati so he probably wants to avoid what happened his last Super Bowl when the city of Philadelphia was so displeased as he analyzed the Eagles upset of the Patriots that a petition was started.
“You know, even when I do a regular-season Bengals games, the question always comes back, ‘Why do you hate the Bengals?’ ” Collinsworth said.
Collinsworth added he also will hear that he favored the Bengals. So he can’t really win.
The funny part about this one matchup is: Even though Collinsworth lives in Cincinnati, he knows the Rams better. The Bengals were not on NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” this year. They haven’t been since Oct. 21, 2018, when the Bengals played the Chiefs.
That’s not even going to help Collinsworth as Andy Dalton was the Bengals’ quarterback and Marvin Lewis was the coach back then.
“I probably have more relationships on the Rams than I do the Bengals,” Collinsworth said. “We haven’t done a Bengals game in forever.
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“I’ve only met [Bengals coach] Zac Taylor a couple times. And I went out to practice the other day and met the two coordinators for the first time. I mean, that almost never happens on ‘Sunday Night Football’ that you go through the entire year of ‘Sunday Night Football’ and you haven’t done the teams in the Super Bowl.”
For Collinsworth, it is expected to be his final game with Michaels as his partner. Michaels is being courted to be Amazon’s lead play-by-player on its exclusive Thursday night package beginning in the fall. ESPN and “Monday Night Football” are also likely to make a run at Michaels, according to sources. If Michaels ends up at Amazon, he may still do some select NBC games.
Collinsworth considers Michaels one of his best friends, but Collinsworth is not going with him to Amazon. He called two games a week before and did not like it.
“I thought it was impossible to do the game the way I want to do it, to do the research, to do the homework, to do the studying,” Collinsworth said. “For me, personally, I did not like it at all. I really didn’t. You know we do it every once in a while. But I love the deep dive part of the job. I love all the film study and getting to know every player and coach and really studying details. It was not for me, I wouldn’t do it again.”
In December, The Post reported that Collinsworth had closed in on a new deal to remain NBC’s Sunday night game analyst when Mike Tirico is expected to take over. (I congratulated Collinsworth on the new deal during the phone conversation and he said thanks, so consider that a confirmation of a done deal.)
As for the Super Bowl, the last time around, his fifth as a game analyst, Eagles’ fans were so upset with a couple of Collinsworth opinions on officiating calls they made a change.org petition to have him only call New England games and described him as “the most biased and horrible commentator ever.”
With 100 million people or so watching, there is a lot of pressure, but especially when it is in your hometown and involves your former team. You don’t want any petitions in your backyard.
“I think I’m gonna be able to do this the right way, but you never know until you get there,” Collinsworth said.
NBC going for all the angles
Producer Fred Gaudelli and director Drew Esocoff will do their seventh Super Bowl together. Five have been with NBC. … NBC will have 40 cameras for the game. The network will have a brand new graphics look, a new score bug and will implement virtual and augmented reality into the telecast.