Collinsworth Shares Media Experiences With Team

Cris Collinsworth had plenty of valuable messages for the Green Bay Packers as he spoke to the team on Wednesday about fostering and maintaining positive media relations throughout their careers. - More


As a Pro Bowl receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, Cris Collinsworth was praised and criticized by the media. As a member of the national media covering the NFL, Collinsworth has done plenty of praising and criticizing as well.

So Collinsworth had plenty of valuable messages for the Green Bay Packers as he spoke to the team on Wednesday about fostering and maintaining positive media relations throughout their careers.

Collinsworth highlighted many examples, positive and negative, of dealing with the media that he's learned from both as a player and broadcaster.

He cautioned the players about how sometimes innocuous or off-the-cuff comments can be taken too seriously. He cited his own rookie season with the Bengals, when he was preparing to play the San Francisco 49ers in Super Bowl XVI, and he was asked by a reporter what was the best part of playing in the NFL.

Collinsworth said he half-jokingly mentioned "dating girls way better looking than ought to be going out with me," and his reputation quickly changed from a happy-to-be-here rookie to something far less desirable.

He also recalls hurting himself when he got drawn into discussions with reporters about the union labor issues in the early 1980s.

"From the fans' standpoint, they consider you as an NFL player one of the most fortunate people on earth," he said. "Nothing disconnects more than a guy making a million dollars a year complaining about his job to a (fan) making $20,000."

Collinsworth also told the players they can do themselves a lot of favors, and save some potentially regretful headaches, if they put the 10-minute cooling off period after a game to good use.

An NFL rule does not allow any reporters into the locker room after a game for 10 minutes. It's worth taking the time to really think about what to say, Collinsworth warned, not only to let the emotions subside, but to consider how some thoughts could be interpreted.

{sportsad300}Collinsworth cited two examples from recent years in the NFL playoffs, when media scrutiny is at its highest. Retired New York Giants running back Tiki Barber told reporters after a frustrating home playoff loss to Carolina that his team was "outplayed and outcoached," a cliché of sorts that was reported as a major criticism of Giants head coach Tom Coughlin.

And two years ago, Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning made reference to obvious "protection problems" after the Colts lost at home in the playoffs to Pittsburgh, and he spent the entire offseason backtracking to explain that he didn't mean to blame his offensive line for the defeat.

"After a game, there's some raw nerves there," Collinsworth said. "You have to think about this as a dangerous moment ... when it comes to talking about teammates, coaches or opponents. Teams don't want players who create media issues."

At the heart of Collinsworth's message was that players need to respect that the media have a job to do, and that the media are a direct link to the fans. When something regretful is said, admitting to a mistake and apologizing can be the best way to keep the relationship with the media mutually beneficial.

Collinsworth's thoughts resonated with a lot of players, even on a team as young as the Packers. Many of Green Bay's players come from high-profile college programs and still are seeing the media exposure increase in the pro ranks.

"At Ohio State, the coaches always talked about being in a fishbowl, where everyone can see you," second-year linebacker A.J. Hawk said. "There were situations where people would get in trouble, doing certain things that got us attention, usually negative, and we had to know how to handle it.

"I think having a guy like Cris come in, who has seen both sides, guys will listen to someone like him."

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