Beverly Hills, Calif. — NBC Sports analyst Cris Collinsworth said there have been a lot of mistakes in the NFL’s “Deflategate” scandal.
“Where the compromise is, I don’t know. It’s going to come down to either Tom Brady cheated in the game, either directly or not directly, or the NFL is embarrassing and tainting the legacy of one of the greatest players we’ve ever seen,” Collinsworth said Thursday during a TCA summer press tour panel promoting NBC’s broadcast of Sunday Night Football.
“I don’t know that anybody recovers from this totally.”
The Emmy-winning analyst said the judge in the case between the NFL versus Brady and the New England Patriot wants no part in deciding the case.
“Everything we’re hearing so far is there’s no settlement in sight,” Collinsworth said.
The NFL season kicks off with a Thursday edition of Sunday Night Football on Sept. 10 featuring the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots facing the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Collinsworth, along with play-by-play announcer Al Michaels and coordinating producer Fred Gaudelli, said that “Deflategate” and the other recent NFL scandals and issues won’t impact the league’s success and popularity.
“Will there be a diminishment with all this stuff going on the last couple years? I’m telling you, more than ever, people are interested in what’s happening,” Michaels said.
In fact, the trio reiterated what they’ve said in the past, that any press gets more people following and watching the NFL. “The league can go through all these problems...if anything it’s created more interest in the league, not less,” Michael said. "Now, to me, what reality television is is bad scripted television. The only real reality television is live sports, and that's what the NFL has become."
They were also asked about public funding of stadiums, in reference to John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight segment on the issue.
“The NFL’s an easy target. I don’t think that situation exists the way it did 15-20 years ago,” Michaels said. “That’s not happening anymore. That’s yesterday’s news.”
The veteran announcer mentioned the Cleveland Browns, who moved the franchise to Baltimore in 1996 and then had a new stadium built in Cleveland for an expansion team there. Fewer public money is going into stadiums now, Michaels said.
“Obviously there are bigger problems to fix than the fact that a place doesn’t have a stadium,” Michaels admitted. “Now most stadiums I think will be built with private money primarily.”
Other highlights from the panel included:
— Michaels spoke about Frank Gifford, the former NFL player and sports journalist who died a few days ago, calling him “the coolest guy in the room” and “a classy guy on so many levels.” It was always “smooth sailing” for Gifford, Michaels said. “I never saw him flustered...He was a sea of tranquility.” Michaels added that he grew up in New York when Gifford was playing for the Giants in the 1950s and early 60s. “There was Mickey Mantle and Frank Gifford,” he said. “He had more to do with the success of that team and the evolution of the National Football League... Frank helped elevate that franchise and by extension the league itself.”
— Not surprisingly, there was a question about an NFL team coming to Los Angeles. Michaels said it has always been an issue of not having an adequate football stadium in L.A. Collinsworth said that even more surprising than no NFL team in L.A. is that there is no team in Europe. “Personally I would love to see two teams” in Europe, he said, suggesting that a U.S.-based team could travel there for two weeks, playing a team in London and then perhaps Germany. “They definitely have the kind of fan base to support franchises over there,” Collinsworth said.