Former Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver, current Sunday Night Football analyst and 12-time Emmy winner Cris Collinsworth is getting his football fix this fall whether the NFL lockout extends into the regular season or not.
He recently received a call from the head coach of the Highland High School Bluebirds, located in Northern Kentucky, Dale Mueller, about coaching the receivers on the team. At first Collinsworth laughed off the request but Mueller assured him that he was serious and promised him that even though he wouldn't be paid, he'd have fun. Collinsworth would also get a chance to coach his son, Jac, who is a wide receiver on the team.
Collinsworth now writes that he has a playbook for the first time in a long time and he feels like an NFL rookie again. He says that he feels anxious but he loves coaching and that he knows many of the kids from coaching them in junior leagues. He also believes that he has a chance to help these kids remember that the reason they're playing football is because it's fun.
I have a theory on coaching. Today's kids missed the fun part of sports. We all grew up playing sports in the yard or on the street. We created our own rules and settled our own disputes. We fought and cussed for the first times in our lives with our best friends. By the time we put on a uniform, we had already fallen in love with the game. Today, these kids are being coached by adults and put on select teams by the time they learn their ABC's. They miss all the fun stuff. They almost look at sports as a job. Too bad. One of the reasons I took this job is that Dale Mueller brings the fun back to football. He makes everything a game. The kids giggle and laugh all day at his toilet paper stories and games of tag.
The Highlands Highschool Bluebirds have won four straight football championships. They take their football program very seriously. Collinsworth says that he hopes he can help them get even better by adding some imagination.
If the NFL owners and players come to an agreement before the regular season begins, Collinsworth will be in his usual spot, next to Al Michaels in NBC's broadcast booth as Sunday Night Football's color commentator. However, if the owners and players fail to come to an agreement and allow the lockout to chip away at the regular season, we can all see Collinsworth on the sidelines of a Northern Kentucky high school.
Nothing against the Bluebirds, but I hope that doesn't happen.