Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen is 33 years old and coming off a season in which he missed nine games with a foot injury. While still quite productive when healthy — he had at least 69 receptions in each of the five seasons that preceded 2017, reaching 80 in 2016 — the end of his NFL career clearly is on the horizon, so Friday’s news from Andrew Marchand isn’t exactly surprising: According to the New York Post scribe, Olsen is auditioning to become an analyst in the “Monday Night Football” booth for ESPN, a job that would necessitate his on-field retirement.
It’s even less surprising when you consider that Olsen did a guest spot as a color commentator for Fox Sports during a Vikings-Rams game in November, when he was on injured reserve (he returned to the field one week later). He garnered generally favorable reviews, too. But NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport says Olsen is merely testing the waters for his post-playing career and has committed to play for Carolina in 2018.
Marchand adds that Fox also could be interested in Olsen for its new Thursday night football booth if Peyton Manning turns down the job. Michael McCarthy reported earlier this month that both Fox and ESPN are pursuing the future Hall of Famer, perhaps offering him $10 million annually, though Marchand says Manning already has turned down ESPN.
ESPN is remaking its “Monday Night Football” booth after Jon Gruden returned to coaching and the network’s announcement last week that it is moving play-by-play announcer Sean McDonough back to college football. Joe Tessitore, a longtime favorite of college football fans, will assume that role next season. McDonough and Gruden struggled to mesh in their two years together, and on Thursday McDonough told WEEI radio in Boston that their time together “wasn’t a tremendous amount of fun.”
“If you go back and look at the schedule, generally we got one of the worst NFL games each week. You’re trying to make something sound interesting and exciting that isn’t,” he said. “For me, part of it was just the way the booth was set up the last two years. It was really geared around Jon Gruden. That’s not unusual, TV really is an analyst-driven medium. Jon had a particular set of skills that he did really well, and foremost among them was analyzing the play, breaking down the play, ‘here’s why they ran that play, here’s why it worked, here’s what this guy did or didn’t do.’ It was really football heavy, X and O heavy, and I think most play-by-play guys, all play-by-play guys, would’ve felt like a bit of a bystander.”
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