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Was Cris Collinsworth a better announcer or receiver?

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Cris Collinsworth just announced his fourth Super Bowl, but does his playing career compare to that?

Bengals Collinsworth Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Love him or hate him Cris Collinsworth has been announcing games for a long time. He just participated in the most important game an announcer could dream of, the Super Bowl.

But it wasn’t anything new for Collinsworth, as was his fourth time announcing a Super Bowl.

It is often forgotten that Collinsworth was once a big part of the Bengals’ offense, He was drafted by the team in 1981, and had over 1,000 receiving yards in his first season. He repeated that mark three more times during his eight year career. He also ended his career with 36 touchdowns.

Those numbers seem pretty low for today’s NFL fan, but you need to remember this was before thing like illegal contact was even a thing. This is before the NFL decided to open up the passing game.

Despite having a sneaky good career, there seems to be a consensus among Collinsworth’s commentating peers which job he did better, according to Geoff Hobson of the Bengals’ official site.

“Cris is the best analyst in football. Head and shoulders above everybody else,” Tony Dungy told Hobson. “I can’t say that as a receiver. And he was a very good receiver...Not many analysts who played a position see the whole game like he does.”

That is ultimately the biggest argument for Collinsworth being a better announcer. Is he even close to going to the Hall of Fame anytime soon as a receiver?

No way.

That isn’t to say he was a bad player, but the guy just announced his fourth Super Bowl, and this is like winning the Super Bowl for announcers.

Still, it is hard to ignore the fact that Collinsworth gets his fair share of criticism as announcer despite his success. This is something Steve Tasker touched on with Bengals.com. He says it has something to do with Collinsworth using too much jargon.

“Because of the way the game is structured and the way the broadcast industry is now, you have to be really succinct,” Tasker says. “You have to read a promo, you have go to a break, you have to go to a timeout. There are elements that don’t have anything to do with analysis. Sometimes you have to revert to the verbiage of the game. Wham Bam Block. Zin Motion. Pop motion. Cover Two. Cover Six. All that. A huge amount of the public has no idea about that stuff … If Cris has critics, he’s trying to give them so much information and he can in such a tight format because he knows football and he communicates it so well. That’s what makes him so great.”

I would argue against that. I think it is more that anyone who has the kind of platform Collinsworth has in this day and age is bound to have a large amount of critics. We live in a time where anything you say can be spread to millions of people in seconds, and odds are it will be accessible for as long as the internet is around.

Also, Collinsworth has to break down so many plays and penalties, and by the nature of the NFL a lot of those plays will have a pretty big grey area. Also, he could just be wrong about a rule every so often.

Now, some people aren’t so forgiving about that kind of thing. We just have to remember that Collinsworth is human, and he is capable of making mistakes.

Collinsworth would also be the first to tell you he isn’t perfect, especially as receiver. When explaining his theory of why tall receivers were harder to cover, he explained it was hard for defensive backs to be able to tell their speed even his own “lousy speed.”

What does Collinsworth think he is better at though?

“I’m never going to play again so I’m sure not going to jinx myself on the latter part of that.”