Typically, when a network needs a game analyst, it scours the ranks of the recently retired, searching for talented former players to lend some insight to their broadcasts.
But for the November 19 Rams-Vikings game, Fox has gone with a different approach. The network announced Thursday that it will enlist injured Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen as a game analyst that afternoon in Minneapolis. Olsen, who is out for the season and whose team will be on a bye, will join Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis in the booth.
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As we’ve seen with Tony Romo, proximity to the league can be a valuable asset for an analyst. Olsen has played against many or most of the Rams and Vikings players he’ll be commenting on and possesses first-hand knowledge of contemporary NFL scheming. That should allow him to speak about game action at a deeper level than analyst who are further removed are capable of. Fox Sports exec John Entz made that very point in a statement Thursday.
“We are really looking forward to having Greg join our coverage,” Entz said. “As a current player, his unique insight and knowledge of today’s game and players provides a great addition to our broadcast.”
It might be interesting to watch whether Olsen is forced to temper his analysis in any way by virtue of being an active player. He presumably won’t want to give away any of Carolina’s secrets, and he also might be hesitant to criticize players he could later play with or against. Will that downside of an active player in the booth outweigh the upsides? We’ll find out next weekend.