NBC pro football analyst Cris Collinsworth did not exactly drop a “despite being a woman” or a “like a man” qualification, but his comments during Wednesday’s broadcast did come across as sexist or backhanded to some.
Collinsworth, working the Pittsburgh Steelers–Baltimore Ravens broadcast, drew the ire of social media after trying to compliment the female fans of the six-time Super Bowl champion Steelers when he was discussing fan feedback during three coronavirus-related reschedules for the game.
“Everybody’s a fan,” Collinsworth said to broadcast partner Mike Tirico during the second quarter. “In particular, the ladies that I met. They have really specific questions about the game, and I’m like, ‘Wow,’ just blown away by how strong the fans are here in this town.”
Fans and media pounced, including Deadspin senior writer Julie DiCaro, who wrote, “Hey Cris! I often have really specific questions about the game and I also have lady parts. Please advise on how I can be less surprising to people like you.”
Female football knowledge is not stunning to Collinsworth after working for several years with reporters Michele Tafoya and Andrea Kremer on the broadcast. He issued a late-night apology on Twitter.
“Today on our broadcast I made a reference to a couple of women that I met in Pittsburgh who so impressed me with their football knowledge that I wanted to tell their story on the air,” Collinsworth tweeted. “I know the way I phrased it insulted many. I’m so sorry. What I intended as a compliment to the fans of Pittsburgh, became an insult. I’m sick about insulting any fan, but especially female fans and journalists. I know first hand how much harder they have to work than any of us in this industry. I was wrong and I deeply apologize.”
And for this, Collinsworth avoided being canceled.