Monday, Nov. 26 update: Cris Collinsworth: A Football Life repeats at 8:15 p.m. today, Monday, Nov. 26, if you missed it last weekend. It follows NFL Total Access.
Original post Friday, Nov. 23: “Probably to this day the smartest football player that I’ve ever played with on the field.”
That’s how former Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason describes his pal – and favorite target -- Cris Collinsworth in Cris Collinsworth: A Football Life premiering 8 p.m. tonight (Friday Nov. 23) on the NFL Network.
Former Bengals Esiason, Ken Anderson, Anthony Munoz and Sam Wyche – plus NBC Sunday Night Football partner Al Michaels -- are among the 12 people interviewed for the one-hour documentary.
The comprehensive profile covers Collinsworth’s playing career (how his failure at quarterback at the University of Florida changed his life; how his eight-year NFL career spanned both Bengals’ Super Bowls), to his transition to broadcasting with WLW-AM, HBO Sports (Wimbledon), NBC Sports (starting with Notre Dame games), Fox Sports and back to NBC.
Here’s a sampling of quotes and full list of participants from the NFL Network:
ANTHONY MUNOZ: “Right away I learned it didn’t matter how lean, how skinny, the guy is one of the toughest guys I’d ever seen play the game.”
AL MICHAELS: “He understands the game so thoroughly and he’s done such an enormous amount of homework. He sees things that I don’t think any other analyst does.”
COLLINSWORTH: “Failing at quarterback impacted my entire life. Train as a receiver, good things happen, I have a nice long career, become a broadcaster out of it – it’s amazing. Don’t be so afraid when life changes.”
BOOMER ESIASON: “He always had a nice communication way about him on the sideline that was calming. Probably to this day the smartest football player that I’ve ever played with on the field.”
COLLINSWORTH: “I’m not going to sugarcoat it. I’m not going to give you something just so the coach or the player doesn’t get mad at me. I’m going to tell you what I think, and I think that’s the job.”
DICK EBERSOL: “He outworks everybody else. He’s about the best prepared human being I have ever known.”
COLLINSWORTH: “I can’t imagine anybody has a better job than I do. You have to occasionally in life step back and go, ‘I am the luckiest guy in the world, this is the greatest job in the world.’ I do it more often than not.”
Cris Collinsworth: A Football Life also includes comments from his wife Holly; sons Jac and Austin; NBC Sports executive Fred Gaudelli; and former HBO Sports President Ross Greenburg.
Not into football? Here’s my list of holiday programs on TV today – How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Frosty the Snowman, the Andy Griffith Show jailhouse Christmas party, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town – plus Finding Nemo, The Wizard Of Oz and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.