Bengals icon Cris Collinsworth has colorful take on drug issues



Drugs dude! It’s always an eye-catching topic.

Illegal drugs are a topic that makes for good copy. Cris Collinsworth also makes for good copy. He played his entire NFL career with the Cincinnati Bengals and although he made three Pro Bowls, and went to two Super Bowls, he may be a better announcer than player. After his retirement as an NFL player, Cris Collinsworth began a broadcasting career as a sports radio talk show host on Cincinnati station WLW. Initially, he was a guest host for Bob Trumpy (also a Bengals alumnus), but took over the show full-time as Trumpy accepted more television assignments. He then became a reporter for HBO’s (now Showtime’s) Inside the NFL in 1989.

In 1990, he became a part of the NBC network’s NFL broadcasts, and in 2009 took the spot vacated by John Madden on Sunday Night Football. Today Cris Collinsworth has won five Emmys, and it’s easy to understand why. He’s very articulate and colorful in his views.

Today on NBC Sports conference call with Al Michaels and Michelle Tafoya, this question came up. Cris Collinsworth stepped up to answer.

Reporter: Everybody, this is for the whole panel but the NFL and the union continued to clash over HGH testing. Do you think they should come to a final agreement to go ahead and implement this? And when you talk to coaches and players do they want HGH testing?

Cris Collinsworth: I’m happy to go first as a former player. People who cheat make me mad. They did when I was a player and they do now. I never cared – I never cared – and I thought they should outlaw – doesn’t make any difference to me if they test for marijuana, cocaine, heroin, PCP — whatever you want to talk about that I don’t care.

I know that as far as the individuals and yes I think they’re all better off if they’re not involved with drugs, and I don’t want to get into a political statement but when you start talking about things that make a difference on the field — when my opponent is better because he’s cheating with steroids or HGH or whatever else they can put in their bodies at this point, now I’ve got a big problem.

And I’m disappointed and I’m actually kind of happy to see more players whether it’s baseball or football or whatever are starting to say, it’s enough. Okay let’s test this. Do what you’ve got to do but don’t make me play against a guy who’s 20 pounds stronger than I am because he’s cheating.

And that’s the significance of this – and as a players’ union you can’t always protect the weakest link just because a guy is on the wrong side of an issue and you’re the players union, you don’t always have to protect that guy.

It’s okay to protect the 80 or 90% that don’t do anything wrong and it should be protected and I think that we’re headed in that direction and I hope that’s eventually where we are.

At the beginning of his answer, Cris Collinsworth sounds a bit Libertarian. I know he doesn’t want to make it into a political statement, but he does kind of sound a bit “hey, legalize it” at the start before adding in his D.A.R.E. “Just Say No” line in there. For comparison sake, here’s Al Michaels response to the question:


Al Michaels:  And Mike just a quick follow up on that I think if you look at the recent history of any of the players’ unions or associations — baseball, football, hockey, basketball, you name it — it was a resistance. They always seem to be longer heads with ownership on any number of issues.



I think the media’s done a great job of exposing what’s taken place in sports — the injury component through the years. This has obviously made all of the leagues step up and take notice and now the players association cannot be the outliers anymore.



They’re involved in this – and I think Cris summed it up beautifully just now – when the players get engaged they’re basically telling their reps “hey we want you to get something done here.”


So I see a right now the level of cooperation or at least an attempt at resolving these issues that I just haven’t seen in years.

Paul M. Banks is the owner of The Sports, an affiliate of Fox Sports. An analyst for 95.7 The Fan, he also writes on Chicago sports media for Chicago Now. President Obama follows him on Twitter (@paulmbanks)

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