NBC “Sunday Night Football” analyst Cris Collinsworth is no stranger to criticism.
Some fans complain about his voice, some say he can be too snarky, and he is often accused of being biased against their teams on national broadcasts.
He takes that all in stride as every broadcaster should and is smart to avoid responding.
But accuse the three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver who played eight years in the NFL of advocating for dirty hits?
That was precisely what he was accused of during the Bills’ 38-20 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs in the rematch of last year’s AFC title game.
The accusation was made on Twitter by several fans. They included a high school coach who feared a Collinsworth comment was giving the wrong lesson to younger players, and someone who writes for Audacy.com, the website of the broadcast group that owns WGR-AM.
The accusation came after the 16-time Sports Emmy winner made this comment after Kansas City’s Nick Bolton tackled Bills quarterback Josh Allen: “Watch Bolton come up. When he grabs Josh Allen’s leg on the tackle, he’s going to wrestle around with it, twist it a little bit. You want to run your quarterback. Go ahead. Take a shot all day.”
In my Monday review, I noted Collinsworth was explaining a common practice in the NFL, which is one reason why he has won so many sports Emmys. He wasn’t advocating the practice.
However, I can see how some viewers didn’t realize Collinsworth was speaking as a rival coach or players when he said “you want to run your quarterback. Go ahead. Take a shot all day.”
The analyst, whose parents were teachers, could have worded it more clearly.
So I reached out to a publicist for “Sunday Night Football” to see if Collinsworth had any reaction to the claim that he was advocating dirty hits.
Here is Collinsworth’s emailed response sent via the publicist: “The idea that I was endorsing what the defensive player did by twisting Josh’s ankle is ridiculous. I played in this league long enough to know, people will try to do things like that to deter your quarterback from running.”
I also asked for Collinsworth’s response to a common belief among Allen fans that he isn’t as complimentary to the Bills quarterback as other quarterbacks in the league because he is the majority owner of Pro Football Focus, which hasn’t been as in love with Allen as other sites.
During the game, Collinsworth often praised Allen, but did call him out for a huge loss and a grounding call on a sack that took the Bills out of field goal range.
“Josh has got to stop doing that,” said Collinsworth.
As I wrote Monday, “Allen has done that before in big games. However, he also makes big plays out of scrambles, including the touchdown to Knox. But those happen when he doesn’t go back as far as he did on the play Collinsworth was referring to. You could even tell Allen was mad at himself and might have even been thinking, ‘I have to stop doing that.’”
Collinsworth defended the comment.
“PFF has multiple people watching every snap of every quarterback for the last 15 years,” wrote Collinsworth. “We have comparative information others don’t. How somebody could watch that game and think I wasn’t impressed with Josh Allen is a surprise. But, I also know what the other teams consider to be his weaknesses, and that fade-away scramble throw he made was at the top of the list.”
Looking inside the ratings numbers: NBC said the Bills-Chiefs game had a 42.7 rating on WGRZ (Channel 2), which is a point higher than previously reported. That’s very impressive considering there was a weather delay for about 1 hour and 14 minutes that meant the game didn’t end until about 12:35 a.m. It was the second-lowest-rated game of the year locally, ahead of only a 41.8 rating for the Bills’ 35-0 win over the Miami Dolphins.
Kansas City was the only other market with a higher rating with a 44.3. However, the Chiefs play in a time zone that is an hour earlier than Buffalo, meaning the game ended at around 11:35 p.m. there.
The ratings every 15 minutes show that most Bills fans stuck with the game beyond midnight.
The game had a 43.2 rating at 11:30 p.m. It dropped to a 39.4 at 11:45 p.m. and still had a 37.1 rating at game’s end. A rating point equals 5,285 households here.
The Buffalo rating is even more impressive when you consider DISH subscribers were unable to see the game because of a national contract dispute with Tegna, the owner of WGRZ.
“Sunday Night Football” has been the No. 1 rated program nationally for 10 years and almost assuredly will be No. 1 this year.
Most prime-time programs get ratings in the 3 to 4 range, with the more popular programs getting ratings between 5 and 7.
Nationally, NBC reported the game averaged total audience delivery of 18.4 million viewers – which was up 18% from the Week 5 matchup between Minnesota and Seattle last year.
The first half averaged 20.8 million TV only viewers, which is only behind Tampa’s win over Dallas in the NFL Kickoff Game and “The Return” of Tom Brady with the Buccaneers against New England. The Bills game had its highest average viewership of 22.3 million before the weather delay.
Channel 2 news director Athan Kompos is no longer with the NBC affiliate after four years in that role and almost two decades at the station. No reason was given in a memo to the staff sent by General Manager Jim Toellner. Kompos’ departure shocked the newsroom, especially since the news department has done well in recent years.
The conspiracy theorists were out after long-running “Jeopardy!” champion Matt Amodio was ousted Monday after 38 wins by Jonathan Fisher, an actor from Florida. Former 97 Rock personality Rich Gaenzler has said on social networks that Fisher is his cousin.
Many viewers thought Amodio was so off his game that they questioned whether he was tired of being on the show. Fatigue could have been a factor. But a bigger factor could have been that he didn’t get any daily doubles. He had often built big leads by getting daily doubles and betting big.