“Make it difficult for them to replace you.”

It’s a timeless story of the NFL preseason, the incumbent starter engaging in a quickie competition against his imminent replacement.

In greg olsenDuring the difficult end of his 14-season career, his job security was rarely in doubt. He was a first-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears, then became one of the cam newtonHe is one of the favorite targets of the Carolina Panthers, where he has established himself as one of the best in the league at his position. But during her second broadcasting career, Olsen suddenly found herself joe montana Looking over your shoulder at a new accomplishment Steve Young.

Olsen is entering his second year as lead analyst for Fox’s NFL broadcasts, a role he most recently troy aikman and was formerly owned by the late John Madden. The title ensures that Olsen is assigned to the network’s flagship game each week, often a game that takes place in the Sunday late afternoon time slot. (This Sunday, he’ll be in Chicago for the Bears-Green Bay Packers game.) In February, Olsen got his final assignment, calling Super Bowl LVII with Fox’s top play-by-play announcer, Kevin Burkhart.

But Olsen failed to feel truly comfortable in his work. That’s because Fox has already named its replacement: the name of a highly publicized (and expensive) prospect. Tom Brady. Fox reportedly signed Brady to an extraordinary 10-year, $375 million contract last year to take over as the game’s lead analyst “immediately following his playing career.” (The network said Brady would also serve as Fox’s “ambassador”.) A few days after that announcement, Fox named Olsen as chief analyst, making him a stopgap until Brady retired.

“I understand what a guy like Tom brings to the table,” Olsen said in a recent phone interview. “He truly is one of the most iconic figures in the history of the game. I understand. I have been living in this world for a long time and I understand the rules that we all follow. Olsen admitted that he “wasn’t thrilled, but this is what we all signed up for.”

Brady announced in February that he was finally calling it quits after 23 seasons, which included a historic run with the New England Patriots, where he won a half-dozen Super Bowl rings, and a final run with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Where he chose his seventh place. , But Brady later said he would wait until the 2024 season to step into the Fox booth. This would give her a year to prepare for the role, and give Olsen a season-long audition to stake her claim for the job. As a player whose place in the team is under threat, Olsen has a mantra for the upcoming season which goes something like this hard Knocks Soundbite: “Make it difficult for them to replace you. ,

“I’m going to try to be as good as I can. I’m going to make it as difficult as possible by saying, ‘I can’t believe we have to replace this guy,'” Olsen told me.

This is a historic moment for Olsen and sports broadcasting. His career has now gained real momentum after a season and a Super Bowl in which his comments were praised by fans and critics alike. In May, Olsen won the award for Outstanding Sports Personality/Emerging On-Air Talent at the annual Sports Emmy Awards. According to The Ringer, Olsen is also working in an era where working as an NFL broadcaster has never been better – or more lucrative. brian curtis This was called “the era of advertiser empowerment”. It wasn’t just Brady who capitalized. ESPN interviewed Aikman and his play-by-play partner, Joe Buck, They parted ways with Fox last year with deals that would have earned them both more than $10 million a year. Amazon will pay al michaels And Kirk Herbstreit About $10 million per year to anchor its broadcasts Thursday Night Football. Tony Romo That era began in 2017, when CBS signed him to a 10-year, $180 million contract to become their lead color analyst in the NFL.

Olsen reportedly makes $10 million a year as Fox’s lead commentator, a figure that will drop to $3 million if Brady moves him into another role. Contrary to some suggestions that he might be moving to another network next season, Olsen is clearly not going anywhere. Olsen’s agent said, “Greg will be the number two team when Tom joins Fox next year.” Pierre Ruskin, Told me in an email. Olsen said his approach this season “will be no different than last year,” but that doesn’t mean he’s ignored all the noise.

Olsen said of the situation with Brady, “I’m not going to sit here and lie to you and give you a clichéd answer that I never think about it.” “I think that’s just nonsense. We’re all human. We’re all competitive.

Like Brady, Olsen began his broadcasting career before his playing career ended. He gave his first audition for Fox in 2015, when he was visiting a friend in Los Angeles. After two years playing for the Panthers, Olsen spent his bye week in the booth as a guest analyst for Fox, returning once again in 2019. He also commentates on local sports broadcasts in Charlotte, where he still lives with his wife, Cara, And their three children.

This may sound like someone who had long considered a career in television, but Olsen downplayed her broadcasting ambitions. “Officially it was never really on my radar,” he said. “It never really happened that one day I said, ‘Hey, I want to be in television.’ As time went on, things came my way and over that same period, each opportunity became even bigger.

Olsen left it after the 2020 NFL season, using his retirement announcement to also reveal his intention to join Fox. The network immediately connected him with Burkhart, who had covered some of Olsen’s high school football games as a local reporter in New Jersey.

Regardless of how he came to this position, Olsen has poured himself into his work ever since.

He spends each week before his scheduled game reviewing materials prepared by Fox’s research team (team statistics and various pieces of media coverage) and uses them to fill out his “game board”, a collection of notes and nuggets. There is an ongoing compilation which ends on Friday evening. The document will inform their observations during the game, equipping them with scenarios and context to incorporate into the broadcast. On Saturday, after the home team arrived in town, Olsen spent hours trying to “play the game before it happens,” he said, devising several scenarios to analyze before kickoff. ‘Send.’

“What will we talk about if it turns into a rash?” If it’s a close game what will we talk about? What would we want to talk about if each team scores 30 points? If neither team has scored a touchdown yet and it’s the third quarter what are we going to talk about? » Olsen said.

“Your rest on game day is a reflection of your work throughout the week. There’s not going to be anything in this match that you won’t be able and comfortable talking about.

That preparation appeared on Olsen’s broadcast tapes, setting him apart from his lazy peers who show up on Sundays without significant observation. Olsen doesn’t have this problem, but he used to have a lot to say. Richie Zyontz, Fox’s longtime NFL producer helped keep it under control, repeatedly reminding Olsen that he didn’t need to pour every thought into the brief intermission between plays. For Olsen, the show didn’t really start until she heard Zyontz scolding into her earpiece. The game is long. You don’t have to realize all your ideas right away. Olsen acknowledged “trying to tell everything to everyone on every play.” Now, if he has three points to make, Olsen will only pick one and save the rest for later.

By the end of last season, Olsen had come into his own. He showed composure on the microphone while winning over fans with his cheerful personality and sharp analysis. At 38 years old, and just a few seasons into his playing career, Olsen has demonstrated an understanding of the modern NFL without cloaking his commentary in buzzwords. Olsen knows her stuff, but she’s no clairvoyant.

February’s Super Bowl was a showcase of Olsen’s best attributes as a broadcaster. He spent the entire week preparing to discuss the Philadelphia Eagles’ tendency to go on fourth down, something the team did twice on the same drive at the end of the first half, culminating in a touchdown to put them ahead of the Kansas City Chiefs. Happened together. ,

But rather than focus on superficial points – e.g., the Eagles’ dominance in the trenches, or the team’s virtually unbeatable “push” quarterback method – Olsen got more specific, explaining to the audience that the Philadelphia game attracts a top three. The downs were designed to set up an upcoming fourth down conversion. It was clever but digestible. Olsen took viewers deep, but didn’t immerse them in football’s mysteries.

“To me, it’s a more interesting way to bring the audience into the conversation and say, ‘Look, this is not something the coach decides at random,'” he said. “It is decided in advance. And I think when people hear that, they say, wow, I never even thought about seeing third down, because I’m guessing whether fourth down is an option or not.

Olsen was widely praised for his Super Bowl calling, giving him a legitimate claim as the NFL’s best color analyst. “When you look at it, Olsen did as a broadcaster what Brady did as a player: Olsen earned everything he got and came out on top in the biggest games,” wrote New York Post sports media editor Andre Marchand. And Brady’s decision to continue broadcasting through 2024 prompted ESPN meena kims Is twitter“Another year with the wonderful Greg Olsen. ,

But it’s unclear when or if Olsen will return to the game’s biggest stage. Fox’s next Super Bowl is scheduled to air in 2025, when Brady is expected to be in the booth with Burkhart. In an episode of his podcast released Monday, Brady reiterated his intention to “come to Fox next year.” And last weekend, Brady appeared in a pre-taped segment on the network’s college football pregame show.

In the NFL, players and pundits are never far away from demotions. Olsen’s days on Fox’s first team may be numbered, but he takes solace in knowing he left everything in the booth.

“I’ll try to do my best,” he said. “If there’s someone better than me or someone they like better than me, it’s never going to happen because I did it with everything I had.” Didn’t follow them. I think if you can say this with confidence, you’ll be quite happy with how everything else is going.

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