- Cindy Ord/Getty
- The injured Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen is set to appear as a guest analyst for this Sunday’s game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Los Angeles Rams.
- The Vikings reportedly asked Fox Sports to move Olsen to a different game, citing a potential conflict of interest. The Vikings will play the Panthers in Week 14.
- While members of the broadcast team typically receive access to inside information prior to games, Fox says that Olsen will not participate in this aspect of the process.
In a league where the outcome of one game can make or break an entire season, the Minnesota Vikings don’t want to take any chances.
The 7-2 Vikings own a two-game lead in the NFC North, but with several tough matchups coming up on their schedule, they still have work to do. Their opponents in one of those games, the Carolina Panthers, are on bye this week, which led to a strange situation between the two teams.
Weeks ago, Fox Sports invited the Panthers tight end Greg Olsen, who has been sidelined by a broken foot since Week 2, to sit in the broadcast booth as a guest commentator during this Sunday’s game between the Vikings and the Los Angeles Rams. Given the bye week and Olsen’s interest in announcing as a post-playing career, it seemed to be a harmless gesture.
But that’s not how the Vikings saw it. According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, Vikings general manager Rick Spielman got in touch with both the NFL and Fox about the matter, expressing his belief that it is “inappropriate” for Olsen to be in the broadcast booth when he has a game against Minnesota remaining on his schedule. Olsen is still recovering from injury, but he could return in time for the Week 14 matchup.
The Vikings’ objections are rooted in the fear that Olsen could gain a competitive advantage from the experience. Broadcasters usually have pregame access to the teams they’ll be calling, often in the form of production meetings or walkthrough practices. The Vikings reportedly requested that Olsen be moved to a different game.
Fox, however, stood its ground, offering the following statement in defense of Olsen’s presence.
“We are excited for the opportunity to make this Sunday’s broadcast fun and insightful with Pro Bowler Greg Olsen,” it read. “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.”
As for the NFL, Pelissero reported that “it did not object” to the arrangement.
The Vikings can hardly be blamed for their paranoia, but as long as Fox does its part to keep Olsen from learning inside information, there doesn’t seem to be a reason to alter the arrangement. Olsen, for his part, was incredulous at the idea that he would use the experience to gain an edge on the Vikings.
“The notion that I’m going to gain an unfair advantage is crazy,” he said, according to David Newton of ESPN. “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.”
Olsen was also critical of the idea that the pregame meetings would even have the ability to affect his readiness to take on the Vikings.
“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,” said Olsen. “We’re not getting anything that’s really going to give you much insight on how to beat them.”
Game time is set for Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.