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Al Michaels defends Cris Collinsworth on Super Bowl catch calls: NFL must 'clean this up'

Rob Tornoe, STAFF WRITER

Updated: Thursday, February 8, 2018, 9:19 AM

NBC’s Al Michaels defended his colleague Cris Collinsworth, saying that the NFL is to blame for it’s “insanely and ridiculously complicated” catch rule.

Even as Eagles fans gather to celebrate for Philadelphia’s first Super Bowl parade, Birds fans have not let up on their criticism of NBC Sunday Night Football analyst Cris Collinsworth. According to my colleague Amy Rosenberg, fans lined up on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway were heard chanting “Shut up Chris Collinsworth!” during a replay of the Super Bowl shown on the jumbotrons along the parade route.

Despite his many compliments of Nick Foles’ performance during the Super Bowl broadcast, Eagles fans have become convinced Collinsworth was rooting for Tom Brady and the Patriots to win, largely based on Collinsworth’s belief that running back Corey Clement’s second-quarter touchdown should have been overturned.

“I would have called that incomplete,” Collinsworth said during the broadcast. “If that ball’s not loose in his arms when that last foot came down, I give up.”

Collinsworth’s broadcast partner, longtime play-by-play announcer Al Michaels, defended his colleague’s performance during a Wednesday interview with Mike Missanelli on 97.5 The Fanatic. Michaels called the idea that Collinsworth had a rooting interest in the Super Bowl “complete nonsense.”

“It’s the interpretation of the rules. To me it’s the biggest source of frustration for any fan base and any football fan,” Michaels said. He noted that the two have seen catches all season similar to Clement’s touchdown get overturned over a minor juggling of the football.

“So I think what Cris was referring to at that point was, ‘This is how this is normally called,’” Michaels said. “The fans in Philadelphia should understand that Cris is looking at this objectively. He’s judging this based upon what has happened in the past.”

The NFL’s catch rule has been a source of contention for broadcasters, players and coaches all season. Over the years, the section in the league’s rulebook that defines a catch has grown to 649 words (which is more than 100 words longer than this entire article), features three lettered subsections, six numbered items and two notes. Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti has called the catch rule “ridiculous” and suggested the league rewrite the rules from scratch during the offseason.

“The league’s got to figure out a way to clean this thing up. They’re destroying everything” Michaels said. “That was Cris’s frustration. When he said, ‘I give up,’ I think that was it. You don’t know which way they’re going to call it and it takes too long.”

He continued: “When I’m calling the Ertz touchdown, I want to call it with an asterisk because you can’t call a touchdown a touchdown anymore. You’re not really reviewing the actual play because the rule book is so insanely and ridiculously complicated, you’re almost trying to second guess what they’re seeing in replay.”

Michaels’ full take on the NFL catch rule and the problem it causes for broadcasters is worth listening to (click here to hear Michaels’ full interview with Missanelli):

Regardless of what Birds fans think of Michaels and Collinsworth, the duo are already pegged to call the Eagles’ 2018 season opener for NBC on Sept. 6, when the defending Super Bowl champions will host the NFL’s annual Thursday Night Kickoff at Lincoln Financial Field.

The Eagles’ opponent hasn’t been decided, but it will be one of eight teams on their home slate: Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings.

“Hey, half of our homework is done,” Michaels joked.

Rob Tornoe, STAFF WRITER

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