This weekend, FOX will enhance its broadcast of the Rams-Vikings game by adding Panthers tight end Greg Olsen to the two-man booth of Kevin Burkhardt and Charles Davis. The Vikings (and for that matter the Rams) may not be thrilled about that.
Paul Allen of KFAN and the Vikings Radio Network raised during my weekly visit to his show the question of whether the Vikings will be comfortable with the idea of a player from an upcoming opponent having access to practice, production meetings, etc. Nothing against Olsen, but the Vikings shouldn’t be thrilled with giving Olsen an inside look at team operations, only three weeks before his current team hosts the Vikings.
Conflicts of interest are hardly new in this setting; broadcasters (like Jon Gruden, the brother of Washington coach Jay Gruden, and Chris Spielman, the brother of Vikings G.M. Rick Spielman) routinely enjoy access to inside information regarding actual and potential opponents of a family member’s team. But this one is far more direct. Olsen is currently playing for the Panthers, and he’ll be privy to information that no team would want a member of another team to get.
Asked about the dynamic during a Monday press conference, Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said, “I’m gonna let higher-ups than me handle that.”
It’s not just the Vikings that should be skittish about this. The Rams don’t play the Panthers during the regular season, but they possibly will meet in the postseason.
It may seem picky, but consider the extent to which teams go to protect their secrets. Indeed, Zimmer’s decision to say anything other than “I’m fine with it, it’s not an issue” suggests that it is. And it will be interesting to see what if anything Zimmer’s higher-ups do about it.
UPDATE 2:17 p.m. ET: FOX says that it will limit Olsen’s access in advance of the game, citing the Vikings’ concerns.