One of the biggest games of Week 11 is between the Rams and the Vikings, however, that showdown is currently just serving as a sideshow to an off-the-field controversy that reared its ugly head this week.
The decision to put Olsen in the booth isn’t sitting well with Vikings general managerRick Spielman, who believes that it’s completely inappropriate for Olsen to announce the game since the Panthers still have to play the Vikings this season. Spielman seems to believe that Olsen could help the Panthers gain some sort of an advantage down the road by being in attendance at U.S. Bank Stadium.
Olsen was asked about Spielman’s complaint on Wednesday and the Panthers tight end said that it doesn’t really make any sense.
“The notion that I’m going to gain an unfair advantage is crazy,” Olsen said, via ESPN.com. “We have scouts at every game across the league. I’m going to have enough trouble on my hands broadcasting a game, let alone looking for little nuances on the sideline. I don’t know how much time I’ll have for stealing of secrets. I never was intending or thought I was in a production meeting. I never thought I would watch a practice.”
Although most broadcasters usually attend at least one home team practice, Fox has already announced that Olsen won’t be showing up for any Vikings’ practices. Olsen also won’t be attending any production meetings, according to NFL.com. However, even if he did show up at a meeting, he doesn’t think it would be a big deal.
“For anyone who has ever been in those broadcast production meetings, if you’re spilling your deepest, darkest game plan secrets to the broadcast crew that’s kind of on you,” Olsen said, via ESPN.com. “We’re not getting anything that’s really going to give you much insight on how to beat them. The whole thing is so crazy to me. I don’t know. Whatever.”
If the situation was flipped and a Vikings player was in the booth for a Panthers game, Olsen said he wouldn’t care.
“What you see on the tape is what you see and then whatever your secrets are for that week you sure as not telling anybody,” Olsen said. “So I don’t know what’s left.”
The fact that the Vikings are the ones complaining about Olsen’s participation in the booth is actually kind of ironic. The problem with Spielman’s complaint is that it comes across as slightly hypocritical.
Spielman’s brother, Chris, is an announcer for Fox, and he could conceivably pass any information along to before or after he announces a game. That’s not to say he does, but the option is there.
For instance, Chris was the announcer for the Packers-Bears game in Week 10, and the Vikings still have to play both of those teams. Chris was also on the call in Week 4 when the Vikings hosted the Lions. If Rick really wants Olsen out of the booth, then he should probably ask Fox to eliminate any potential conflict of interest by requesting that Chris doesn’t announce any games if the teams involved are playing the Vikings or will play the Vikings.
As for Fox, despite the criticism from Rick Spielman, they’re going to stick with their plan to let Olsen call this Sunday’s game.
“We are excited for the opportunity to make this Sunday’s broadcast fun and insightful with Pro Bowler Greg Olsen,” the network said in a statement. “We fully respect the Vikings’ concerns and will limit the amount of pre-game access allowed to Greg. We look forward to welcoming him in the broadcast booth and giving viewers a unique perspective this Sunday.”
Olsen doesn’t plan to back down, either.
“That’s the world we live in. Everyone has a problem with something. I get it,” Olsen said, via ESPN.com. “I understand this is a highly competitive world. I get it. But I’m still going to [call the game].”
The plan to put Olsen in the booth has been in place for more than five months, according to the Panthers tight end. Olsen agreed to call a game during the Panthers’ bye, which is this week.
Olsen has been on injured reserve since breaking his foot in Week 2, but could return in time to play in Carolina’s Week 12 game against the Jets. Two weeks after that, the Panthers will host the Vikings.