CHICAGO - Cris Collinsworth's son, Jac, broke the news to him. It was so soon after the Bears' 16-15 loss to the Eagles in the wild-card-round game in January that father, son and NBC play-by-play man Al Michaels were still in the broadcast booth at stunned Soldier Field.
"You're trending on Twitter," Jac told his dad.
Cris has been in broadcasting long enough to know that's rarely a good thing. The Bears-Packers game Sept. 5 begins his 11th season paired with Michaels on NBC's "Sunday Night Football." Collinsworth figured he'd be hearing from his boss in the coming days, maybe even at an in-person meeting.
But this trending moment was different.
Jac asked him: "How did you do come up with that?"
"What are you talking about?" Cris wondered.
Cris had coined the phrase "double doink" in describing Cody Parkey's decisive 43-yard field-goal attempt, which hit left upright, then the crossbar before dropping into the end zone and ending the Bears' season.
"Oh, my goodness," he said on the telecast as the replay drove daggers into Bears fans' hearts. "The Bears' season is going to end on a double doink. How many times can they hit the upright? Unbelievable!"
Nearly eight months after Collinsworth's call, the phrase has stuck and is how that game and play are known in Chicago and Philadelphia. In Philly, they made T-shirts. Chicagoans, meanwhile, would rather forget the whole thing happened.
"I was really just thinking out loud," Collinsworth recalled Tuesday on a teleconference. "It was just one of those things. When I go to Philadelphia now, when they're not mad about something else with me, I hear about that. I hear it a lot of places now. It's kind of funny."
Collinsworth believes the seed for that phrase was planted in his subconscious during years of watching John Madden analyze games. Madden, the Hall of Fame coach who coincidentally preceded Collinsworth as Michaels' partner on "Sunday Night Football," is widely credited with coming up with "doink" as onomatopoeia for the sound of pigskin hitting a hollow steel upright.
From Collinsworth's preparation for calling the Bears-Eagles playoff game, he knew Parkey had hit the upright with five kicks during the season, including four times in a November win over the Lions at Soldier Field. In fact, NBC had a montage of Parkey doinks cued up just minutes after the decisive kick.
Maybe that's how the phrase went from Collinsworth's brain to tongue in that intense playoff moment.
"When John Madden was doing it, and every time (a kicker) hit the upright, it was like you just waited for him to say 'doink,' " Collinsworth said. "It became part of watching the game of football.
"Sometimes ... there are some games that you just get lost in. And you almost forget you're talking to 30 million people. As I listened back to it, I really didn't think anything of it."
The football world, meanwhile, ran with it. For example, the headline on the Tribune's sports cover the next morning read "POST MORTEM" and included a reference to Parkey's "double-doink miss" in the secondary headline.
As a testament to the phrase's staying power, NBC recently filmed a promo for the season opener reprising Bill Swerski's Super Fans, of "Saturday Night Live" fame. Two of them are commiserating in the Soldier Field parking lot. They have a stuffed bear that when squeezed says "double doink" in the thickest Chicago accent. Bob, the character George Wendt plays, says: "They sell them in Green Bay."
Collinsworth's broadcast partner, of course, knows a little something about having a call become synonymous with an event.
Michaels reflected Tuesday on the factors and circumstances that lend themselves to such an attachment. He had some fun connecting the double doink to his famous "Do you believe in miracles?" call in the U.S. Olympic hockey team's semifinal victory over the Soviet Union in 1980.
At the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, Michaels recalled, the U.S. team was widely expected to contend for another gold medal. But they lost their opening match to Canada and didn't make it out of group play. On Tuesday's teleconference, Michaels cited how Chicago Tribune sports columnist Bob Verdi led his U.S.-Canada story the next day with: "Do you believe in debacles?"
"If I was doing last year's (Bears wild-card) game on local radio - let's say I was the Bears announcer - I might have said what Verdi put into his (lead) in 1984," Michaels cracked. "So you come up with certain thing that pop into your head. The great thing about sports is you don't know what's going to happen. If you go into a situation preordained with something you thought of beforehand and you say it, it just sounds rehearsed and trite and manufactured.
"The great thing about what happens in sports and just seeing it with your mind's eye is, hey, the words just come. Fortunately, they come, and 'double doink' - there was no better way to describe what took place last January in Chicago."
Visit the Chicago Tribune at www.chicagotribune.com