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Cris Collinsworth ripped for sexist comment about female fans' football knowledge, later apologizes

Sporting News logo Sporting News 2020-12-03 Billy Heyen

NBC's Cris Collinsworth made sexist comments during Wednesday's Ravens at Steelers game regarding how knowledgeable women are about football.

“Everyone’s a fan,” Collinsworth said midway through the second quarter. “In particular, the ladies that I met. They had really specific questions about the game. I was like, wow, just blown away by how strong the fans are here in this town.”

You can hear Collinsworth's tone in this video clip: 

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Collinsworth may have meant his comments as a compliment as he spoke about the football fan culture in Pittsburgh, but his seemingly genuine surprise or amazement masked that, at the very least. It's an obviously tired trope that women are somehow lesser fans than men, and Collinsworth leaned right into it Wednesday.

The NFL has seen more female trailblazers year by year. Callie Brownson, Cleveland's chief of staff, recently became the first female position coach in an NFL game when she stood in for the Browns' usual tight end coach. Sarah Thomas has been officiating in the NFL since 2015. Thomas, Brownson and Washington coaching intern Jennifer King all worked the same game earlier this season, marking the first game with a woman on the officiating crew and on each coaching staff.

In the college ranks, Sarah Fuller just became the first woman to kick in a Power 5 football game when she kicked off the second half for Vanderbilt on Nov. 28 at Missouri, and she's the only Commodores kicker on the depth chart for their season finale against SEC power Georgia. 

Collinsworth received criticism earlier this season when he and his usual broadcast partner, Al Michaels, joked about being required to wear masks during their broadcast. The 2020 season is Collinsworth's 12th on the "Sunday Night Football" crew for NBC.

The former NFL wide receiver issued an apology Wednesday night.

"Today on our broadcast I made reference to a couple of women I met in Pittsburgh who so impressed me with their football knowledge that I wanted to tell their story on the air," Collinsworth wrote on Twitter. "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 deeply apologize."  

Apology or not, the tone on Twitter showed how people felt about Collinsworth's remarks.

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