In Week 14 of this NFL season, the Minnesota Vikings will make a trip to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers in what could end up being a significant battle for playoff position in the NFC. In a bit of an unusual move, Panthers’ tight end Greg Olsen will be working as an analyst in the booth for FOX for this week’s game.
As you might expect, the Vikings aren’t terribly pleased with this development, as they feel it might allow Olsen to gather some sort of advance intel by being around the teams during the week. However, FOX has assured the Vikings that Olsen will not be allowed at any of the team’s practices, nor will he be allowed at any of the other meetings or preparatory sessions that the Vikings will have during the week.
Olsen told Tom Pelissero on the NFL Network:
"FOX called me a couple nights ago to kind of tell me some of the concerns of the Vikings," Olsen said. "I understood where they were coming from. I think once we made it clear to everyone involved that by no means did we ever intend to go to any practice, or being in a production meeting, interviewing the players, the coaches and getting behind the scenes info like what would traditionally happens in a production meeting, I think everyone kind of understood a little better."
"I don't know if the Vikings still do but the way we think about it -- nothing I'm going to see from that booth a million miles in the sky is any different than what we would see on a game film. I'm going to watch that Rams-Vikings game a hundred times between now and then, getting ready to play them. Whether I see it live from the same angle or see it on film, I don't think there's really too much advantage that I or the Panthers would have."
While Olsen is probably right, this really is kind of a dumb thing for FOX to do to put themselves in this position in the first place. As the linked article from NFL.com points out, there have been other players that have done work in the booth while they were still active players, but not in covering teams that they were going to play down the road in the same season.
FOX is showing five other games on Sunday, including an all-AFC matchup that was cross-flexed from CBS that features the Cincinnati Bengals and the Tennessee Titans. . .neither of whom the Panthers play this season. If FOX wanted Olsen to do some analyst work for them, they could have put him on, literally, any other game they were carrying this Sunday. But, they chose to put him on this one instead.
Yes, it’s ultimately going to end up being a whole lot of nothing, but a little bit of decent planning would have prevented this whole situation entirely.