Behind the Scenes with FOX’s NFL Team: Why Greg Olsen is a Natural in the Stand


By Richie Zyontz
FOX NFL Senior Producer

Editor’s note: Richie Zyontz has been an NFL producer for FOX since 1994 and senior producer for the past 20 seasons. He has over 40 years of league experience and produced six Super Bowls. Throughout the 2022 NFL season, he will provide an inside look as FOX’s new No. 1 NFL team heads to Super Bowl LVII.

It’s been an exciting season for the FOX NFL A team.

Kevin Burkhardt and Greg Olsen have smoothly and successfully taken over from the iconic broadcast team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. It was not an easy challenge.

Most of this team has been together for 20 years on many levels, both on the production side and on the technical side. They’re a tight-knit group, adding two new lead vocals for the 2022 season.

A drastic change like this doesn’t happen often in sports television. But there is a huge caveat to this tsunami.

This warning is numbered 12 for the Tampa Bay Bucs and is named Tom Brady. When his storied NFL career is over and he picks him, Brady will become our senior game analyst – a job that Greg Olsen is doing pretty well right now.

The waiting game

Our team just covered Brady for the fourth time this season, but it was our first meeting in September that set the tone. Olsen is funny, self-aware and very intelligent.

He cleverly aired what some feared would be a sticky situation when current and future No. 1 analysts met via video call.

Almost immediately, Greg told Tom, “That TV thing sucks, don’t even worry about it. I’ll take care of it. » The tone was set; warm laughter followed.

During their call this week before Sunday’s Panthers-Bucs game, Brady mentioned that he and some teammates compiled a list of the best tight ends of all time, and Olsen made the cut. Greg, wanting to appreciate the moment, asked Brady to repeat it. A nice moment, but the elephant in the room remains.

Nobody knows if Brady will play beyond this season, us included. Heck, it’s possible that Brady himself doesn’t know. If Brady makes the jump to broadcasting in 2023, I firmly believe he will excel. Are you betting against the greatest quarterback of all time?

At the moment, he is clearly focused on football. Internally, we try not to speculate on the future.

Olsen himself has no qualms about his odd situation. He acknowledges that the addition of Tom Brady to the FOX NFL stable is a coup for the company. It is the one for which he is prepared.

Climbing in class

Olsen has even far exceeded my highest expectations this season. I knew his energy and his confidence, but I had never met him before this offseason.

As well as being a joy to be around, this guy lives and breathes football. His enthusiasm fills a room. The enthusiastic delivery heard on the broadcast is exactly the same tone we hear in our production meetings every Saturday night.

Olsen is unusual for an analyst. He rarely speaks in clichés and explains the game in understandable language. Another great quality is his ability to see the big picture. Many analysts tend to overanalyze. They go from game to game and beat you on the head with minutia. Olsen stays one step ahead and provides context to what is unfolding.

There is an ongoing quest for greater brevity. In fact, during the first commercial break of each week, Greg will say, « Z, the broadcast doesn’t officially start until you tell me to slow down and tighten things up. »

That’s good advice, if I may say so!

Greg Olsen shares his thoughts on the Buccaneers-Panthers game during a FOX Sports team meeting

Greg Olsen shares his thoughts on the Buccaneers-Panthers game during a FOX Sports team meeting

self-scouting

With that in mind, the band has decided to screen a portion of our show from last week between Eagles and Cowboys. Just Olsen, Burkhardt, director Rich Russo and myself, watching the tape over a bowl of chips and guacamole.

It’s very different from the cinematic study that Olsen was used to as a player. In this world, an assessment is much simpler and drier. Either you made a game or you didn’t. Either you blocked the guy in front of you or you didn’t. The game was either a win or a loss.

Television is much more subjective. There is not necessarily a right or wrong; there is a lot of gray area.

There are a few basic principles for commentators. One of them is to avoid talking too much. Broadcasts need clean air, allowing the sights and sound of the crowd to carry the moment.

A few minutes into our review, Greg noticed an instance where it was long, adding an extra thought when perhaps it wasn’t necessary. He noticed himself; I didn’t have to say a word.

Our self-recognition turned out to be a useful exercise. I noticed times when we went to reruns when none were needed. Over-reading is the truck version of overtalking – best avoided.

Despite concerns about overwork, there were numerous instances where Burkhardt and Olsen remained silent, allowing Russo’s footage to tell the tale.

When we finished, the verdict was unanimous: the session was useful and our time was well spent.

Greg Olsen chats with the FOX Sports camera crew before a game

Greg Olsen chats with the FOX Sports camera crew before a game

NFC South Showdown

Games often don’t play out in form. The Bucs offense and Brady were in a rambling funk. Olsen’s former team, Carolina, had rushed for more than 300 yards in their previous game. While this game had major playoff implications for both clubs, we weren’t expecting a work of art. The Panthers hammered the ball. The Bucs will hopefully stay close and allow Brady to do some late magic.

Olsen had a different approach. In our Saturday night production meeting and again in Sunday morning’s chat with the camera crew, he described a very open game in which both teams would take more risks. He imagined Brady throwing the ball around the yard, and that’s precisely what happened.

Current quarterback and future TV analyst Tom Brady won his 19th Division title. Former tight end and current TV analyst Greg Olsen made the game.

In two weeks, Olsen and Brady could potentially see each other again when Tampa likely hosts the NFC East champion in a game of wild cards. For now, week 18 is beckoning. And the Super Bowl is only 42 days away!

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