After calling Super Bowl LVII, in which he and Greg Olsen received rave reviews, Kevin Burkhardt felt really proud to live up to the position that their bosses at Fox placed them in. Heading into the season, replacing Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, wasn’t an easy task, especially in a Super Bowl year. But the decision-makers at Fox put their faith in Burkhardt-Olsen, and it seemingly paid off.
Recently making an appearance on The Marchand and Ourand Sports Media Podcast, Burkhardt didn’t mince words when the conversation turned to the internal feeling about replacing a partnership that had been in viewers’ living rooms for over two decades.
“I’m more excited than nervous at this point. I’m 49 years old, I’m not a kid,” Burkhardt said. “I’m just going to let it rip and let the chips fall where they may. That’s all I’ve ever done, and luckily it’s gotten me to this point. I will say that, of course, having an all-time Super Bowl, and I think we had a really good show, and it feels great.”
“I think the biggest thing to your question Andrew,” Burkhardt told Marchand, “we know who we were [replacing]. I looked up to Joe Buck. I think Joe and Troy are unbelievable. Joe was super supportive of us, he and Troy when they left. We obviously still talk, but I think the one thing that I felt, I don’t know about Greg, after the Super Bowl when we’re getting hugs and we’re out and celebrating, I felt really proud to live up to what our bosses put us in…They obviously took a shot. They could’ve done something else there.”
Burkhardt continued, saying that Fox took a shot on two guys that were not necessarily household names (with Olsen being more of a household name than himself), and they put them in a make-or-break position as broadcasters on the biggest stage of their careers. Neither one was necessarily new to broadcasting, but it was essentially a trial by fire for the most-watched sporting event in North America.
“I felt good to kind of make them proud, hopefully,” Burkhardt added.
Broadcasting isn’t the same as playing. But you can make similar analogies about the stage and how Burkhardt and Olsen performed as broadcasters. As we know, Olsen appeared in Super Bowl 50 with the Carolina Panthers. So while he had been on the stage before, the elements were just a tad different.
“I think the analogy is right. I think nobody wants to go in and have a three-interception game any week, right?” Olsen said. “Whether it’s Week 1, Week 7…or the Super Bowl. But I also don’t think you want to go in and go 5-for-7 for 98 yards. You don’t want to go in and just be so scared to throw three picks that you just don’t bring any value. The moment becomes so big and the fear of having a bad day overshines the urgency to go out and really shine, and to do the game service.”
“Not for me and Kevin, but the game deserved a broadcast fit for the stage that it was on. Whether it was Kevin or I, next year Romo or Nantz, Joe or Troy or whoever, I think everybody feels that level of burden of saying, ‘Listen, this is the premiere sporting event in the world and it’s only one day. There’s one night. There’s no best of seven. There’s no comeback tomorrow. You get one shot and the game deserves a performance that it deserves.’”
“I think Kevin and I were very clear with each other like, ‘Hey, man, let’s come in and do our game. Let’s not be afraid to go out on a limb. Let’s not be afraid to say things the way we really feel and really develop some interesting storylines that maybe other people haven’t dove into very deeply through the year.’ Just because it’s the Super Bowl doesn’t mean we have to shy away from what we’ve done all year, which has been that.”
“I’m glad we didn’t throw three picks, but I’m also proud of the fact that we didn’t change what we did. We didn’t change who we were because the stage grew. We, if anything else, we leaned into deeper to who we are and hopefully, what people enjoy about our show.”
Speaking of nerves, Burkhardt illustrated a story from the Super Bowl, in which he and Olsen nearly forgot to do their pregame hit. They lost track of time, snacking on peanut butter pretzels, talking about the game, and the next thing they knew, celebrated director Rich Russo was calling them to ask, “Are you guys coming to your hit?”
“Looked at the clock and the hit was like in four minutes,” Burkhardt recalled. “I was like, ‘Holy ****, dude, we gotta get on the field.’ We’re just sitting there, stuffing our faces, watching the pregame like ‘Oh, this is great.’ We’re trying to find the exit to get out on the field. We go out on the field and [camersa operator] Don Cornelli’s waving his hands on the other side of the field. We were running across the field to make our pregame hit.”
What a start to the day. The two were literally putting in their earpieces as they ran across the State Farm Stadium.
“We made it by three seconds,” Olsen said.
Not a bad performance for two guys who were almost late to their pregame hit.