It’s possible that Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen looks at Jason Witten and thinks to himself, “that could have been me.” Both players were highly sought after by television networks last year, but while Witten took his talents to the Monday Night Football booth, Olsen decided to keep playing. It didn’t work out too well for either of them. Olsen re-fractured his foot in the first game and then later ruptured his plantar fascia in December, ending his season early. Meanwhile, Witten had a pretty rough run in the MNF booth that earned the ire of critics and audiences alike.
Considering how close Olsen came to being in Witten’s position before returning to the Panthers, you might think he’d see this latest injury and subsequent surgery as a sign to hang up the cleats and take the next step. After all, when he was injured the previous year, Olsen worked as a Fox game analyst one week. He also did work for ESPN in the lead-up to the Super Bowl. Clearly the interest in there from both sides and it’s more a question of “when” than “if” Olsen ends up working in TV.
A couple months back, Olsen appeared on The Dan Patrick Show when he was asked if he regretted not retiring before the 2018-2019 season and heading directly into the booth.
“I think I’d be lying to you if, like anyone else who has bad things happen to them, for a brief a moment of weakness, you don’t play the what-if game. I think we’ve all been there…we’d all love to say we don’t have those times. That we don’t think back and we don’t second guess. But that’s probably a fair thing to say.
To say I regret coming back, that’s not true. I knew I could play at a high level. I still know I can play at a high level. Did I think I was gonna get hurt in the first quarter of that first game? Of course not. You know, if I would have known that [laughs], I don’t know if I would have gone through the whole offseason.”
As this season comes to a close and it’s time to start thinking about what’s next, Olsen told reporters that he’s still mulling over his next steps, be they in the booth or back onto the field.
Greg Olsen on his future, stopped short of saying he’d definitely keep playing. pic.twitter.com/WUdtMpLsRF
— Joe Person (@josephperson) December 26, 2018
“I think that’s always your intention. I still feel like I can play at a high level. Obviously, I said that before the season too and it didn’t exactly work out. It’s been a frustrating two years, there’s no question about it. There’s a lot of other people who have a lot of say in it. What they feel my future is here, what other opportunities present themselves, it’s hard to say. I still enjoy playing. I still know I can play, but that decision isn’t always up to me.”
Olsen added that he expects to be fully healed within three or four months and thinks he’ll be in shape to start the 2019 season. That said, he’s basically missed the bulk of the last two seasons, one of the “many factors” he’s weighing about his return.
It sounds like Olsen will, at the very least, see how the 2019 preseason goes before making a decision (unless that decision is made for him). Whenever he does decide to stop playing, the 12-year veteran will bring a lot of expertise and knowledge with him, wherever he ends up.