BLOOMINGTON — Much like he did as a player for the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1980s, Chris Collinsworth has spent this week secluded in a room, studying notes and stats to prepare for the Super Bowl.
And even though the game is still a few days off, he's ready to go.
"Like McDonald's, I've got so many nuggets," said Collinsworth, who will be in NBC's TV booth with Al Michaels on Sunday to call the game between the Philadelphia Eagles and New England Patriots at U.S. Bank Stadium. "I remember when I was playing, the kickoff came as such a relief because you couldn't prepare any more. It was like, let's play football."
Collinsworth, who just turned 59 this week, has become one of the top NFL analysts since joining NBC's No. 1 crew in 2009. He played eight seasons with the Bengals, participating in two Super Bowls, and he's been becoming more of a factor in NFL broadcasting since then, drawing on his playing experience while walking the fine line between analyzing and praising.
"I just try to be honest," he said. "There's been some uncomfortable times, and I've had some tough things to say, but my job is to critique the performance of players and coaches. Somebody else will critique the critiquer. That's just the way it is."
This will be Collinsworth's fourth Super Bowl. He started in 2005 at Super Bowl 39 with Fox, joining Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to call New England's 24-21 victory over Philadelphia, the same teams that will meet in this Super Bowl.
"I didn't throw up in my first (Super Bowl), so that's positive," he said. "The first time broadcasting (the Super Bowl) was a lot like playing in my first one."
Collinsworth, an Emmy Award winner for sports broadcasting who also owns the stat service Pro Football Focus, joined with Michaels, who will be broadcasting his 10th Super Bowl on Sunday, to call Super Bowl 46 in 2012, when the New York Giants defeated the Patriots 21-17. Three years ago, the two broadcasted Super Bowl 49, which New England won 28-24 over Seattle.
"One of the most unbelievable stats is that New England has not scored a point in the first quarter of a Super Bowl in the Belichick-Brady era," he said.
Even though he's played at a high level, and broadcast many big games, there's something about the Super Bowl that gets him excited.
"It's crazy," he said. "This time of year, it's cold outside, and people are looking for one more football game. It's become a national holiday; it's a uniquely American event. One-third of the country, on that day, is doing the same thing. I like to be part of it.
"It's fun to be on the big stage sometime in your life. It's something for my obituary."
Chad Courrier is a reporter for the Mankato, Minn. Free Press. Follow on Twitter @ChadCourrier