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ESPN's Chris Fowler Reveals Why Burt Reynolds Once Tried to Fight Him

ESPN broadcaster Chris Fowler has been witness to lots of strange, dramatic happenings on college football fields through the years.

But he revealed a story Friday that might top any in-game twist or turn.

Speaking to Paul Finebaum from a set at Florida State's Doak Walker Stadium on "The Paul Finebaum Show," Fowler detailed the story of how legendary actor Burt Reynolds once tried to fight him on the sidelines during a Seminoles game.

The context, Fowler said, was that Reynolds mistakenly believed Fowler had made a joke about his divorce with Loni Anderson during an episode of "College GameDay." Fowler denies he ever made the joke, but he said he was unable to convince Reynolds of that. Apparently, Reynolds held it against Fowler for years, at one point even "sucker punching" Fowler in the arm backstage of the ESPY Awards show.

So, when GameDay was broadcasting from a Florida State game and Fowler ran into Reynolds, who played football for the Seminoles in the 1950s, on the sideline, Reynolds challenged him to a fight.

"He and his college roommate, (Lee) Corso, and (Kirk) Herbstreit and (Chris Fallica) were all watching an FSU game down here on the sidelines, and I get a little too close to him, and he gets up close in my face and says 'you don’t want to fight a 70-year-old man right here on this field,'" Fowler said. "And I said, 'no Burt, you’re right, I don’t.' 

"Because I got two options, right Paul? Either we get to fighting and I win, and I’m the villain, I’m going to do my own version of the Longest Yard from the Florida state penitentiary. Or I get my ass kicked by a 70-year old guy in front of 80,000 people. Those are two bad options. That’s what we call lose-lose."

Eventually, Fowler said, Corso managed to calm Reynolds down and the scrap never materialized. But the story is perhaps just as good.

Despite the run in, Fowler said he remained a Reynolds fan until his death in 2018.