Current sportscaster and former NFL star Greg Olsen joins The Rush, chatting with Liz about the topsy-turvy landscape of NFL quarterbacking, the Browns’ bet on Deshaun Watson, where Urban Meyer blundered in Jacksonville, of his former teammate Cam Newton’s mastery of fashion and the big business that is sports broadcasting. Plus, as a parent and coach of young children, Greg is rediscovering the wild world of youth sports and taking us with him with his Youth Inc. podcast, produced by Audiorama. Check it here!
LIZ LOZA: What people really want to know is whether or not you’ll dress like Cam on air at least once.
GREG OLSEN: You know what? Can you imagine? [LAUGHS]
LIZ LOZA: I mean, the felt?
GREG OLSEN: I just wish… I just wish I had the confidence to dress like that. I think I’d be so anxious, like…
LIZ LOZA: You don’t strike me as missing and…
GREG OLSEN: I’m not– I wear a hoodie and a hat 99% of my life. The thing I would say about Cam and his outfits, like, when he walked in, that might be the most ridiculous ensemble you’ve ever seen. And you’d be like, he looks really good. Like, but he’s the only person on the planet who would look like that because he’s like a store mannequin. He’s 6’5″. He weighs 245 pounds. He doesn’t have an ounce of fat. He’s like the guy in the Hollister commercial. He’s like the–
LIZ LOZA: [LAUGHS]
GREG OLSEN: He’s like the– he’s the marble statue dummy in the front of the store in the mall where you put on every outfit you put on. You’re like, this looks great, but I could never wear this.
LIZ LOZA: I’m here with current sportscaster and former NFL star Greg Olson. How are you today, Greg?
GREG OLSEN: I do it well. Thank you for inviting me.
LIZ LOZA: Let’s talk quarterbacks immediately after the jump, because the quarterback landscape has been absolutely wild this offseason. And I want to know in your opinion, what has been the most important decision that has been made in this position so far?
GREG OLSEN: Wow, I mean, there were a lot. I mean, I think you should – obviously Aaron Rodgers, he’s been dominating the last two years. In the headlines, there was a lot of speculation as to whether he was going to retire. Or if he decided to play, would it still be in Green Bay?
I think a big one, though, you see a quarterback like Russell Wilson move from the NFC to a very competitive AFC, especially in the AFC West. It looks like old veterans are now in the NFC, like Brady and Aaron Rodgers. And then you all have, the kind of young AFC upstarts who are going to play for another decade.
LIZ LOZA: I’m going to ask you since you wear different hats to put on your GM cap. And, you know, I want to know if you would have done the play for Deshaun Watson considering everything that had to be considered.
GREG OLSEN: I think knowing what we know is very messy. I think you can see the NFL team is almost the way they’ve structured the contract, it’s almost a cover that he could be on hold. And his agent has done a great job of only winning $1 million in play this year. And then the other 245 or whatever would be in subsequent years to plan for in case the NFL comes down and suspends him for violating the personal conduct policy for the 2022 season.
So I think there is still a lot to play for. I think the bottom line is that Cleveland obviously felt pretty comfortable with their own investigation, the NFL investigation, where things stood on a legal matter that they were able to get out. There’s no question that Deshaun Watson…I mean, before last season he was one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL.
It really changes the future of your organization if you can acquire it. And they made a big bet. They made a big bet. And as it is anyway, time will tell. And we’ll see if it was a bet that paid off or a bet that comes back to roll back the franchise. So we’ll see.
LIZ LOZA: We talked about turnover at quarterback. But there was a lot of turnover in the stand. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman out of sight at Fox. Are you going to join Team A?
GREG OLSEN: You know, I wish. I get asked this question a lot. And I would love nothing more than to break this news right now with you on the show. But we are not there yet. It’s definitely a great opportunity and I know a lot of people would love a chance to get that seat. There are only a few. But we’ll see how it goes.
LIZ LOZA: How about 30 million a year? Are you interested too?
GREG OLSEN: That yeah. So I think the negotiation would last around 10 seconds, 15 seconds, maybe just depending on how long it took me to write my name as my hand was shaking.
LIZ LOZA: Isn’t it kinda crazy that some broadcasters make more money than the NFL quarterback?
GREG OLSEN: I think it’s amazing. I think this is a trend that really needs to continue to develop.
LIZ LOZA: [LAUGHS]
GREG OLSEN: I think when you look at what these networks are paying for the rights to these games, when you really look at what the broadcast teams are making, it’s crazy money. I’m not trying to turn away from it at all. It’s crazy money. But in multi-billion dollar TV deals, that really doesn’t move the needle in the [? grant ?] in the immense scale of things.
And I think what these networks are seeing now with social media and instant fan engagement and instant response is that everyone is critical. And everyone has an opinion. And you go on Twitter during an NFL game. And broadcasters are all the rage when you pay billions of dollars to stream those games that millions of tuners want to entertain. And at the end of the day, that’s really what it’s all about.
LIZ LOZA: You are co-founder of the podcast production company Audiorama. And you host his flagship podcast, “Youth Inc.” Why did you decide to focus on youth sports as part of your broadcasting career and journey?
GREG OLSEN: I grew up with two brothers. My dad was our high school football coach. He coached high school football for 40 years. We just grew up around the kind of youth sports ecosystem. But it was very different then. The youth sport environment now in which I am raising my three children is very different.
The number of decisions these families have to make at 8, 9, 10 years old is mind-boggling. And I found myself sitting with my wife and I was like: are we dealing with this, right? Are we meeting the needs of each of our three children–I have a daughter and two sons–with very different interests, very different needs? Are we raising them properly? Is it too much?
There’s like, all these crazy decisions. And then we found ourselves with other families. And they all have the same decisions. And I finally said if I don’t know the answers– and I’ve lived 35 years in this world, who does, right? I said, we have to go out and find the people who have this point of view and who have this. And that was really the inspiration behind “Youth Inc.”
LIZ LOZA: You have a very clear understanding of how you want to train these kids. And that frankly reminds me of what we hear — the story we hear about Urban Meyer. I wonder what you think about the often unsavory, shall we say, culture of how adult coaches treat both youth and professional athletes.
GREG OLSEN: Yeah, I’m a firm believer. And whether you’re coaching a 10-year-old or a 35-year-old, you have training issues. You are a coach… you correct problems, mistakes. You don’t condemn people. Coaching and holding people accountable for their mistakes is very different from making personal attacks.
And it seemed that in the Urban Meyer allegations – and again, there are always rumors and speculation. And who knows what is true and what is not. But the stories that were presented, it was very personal. It felt like he wasn’t correcting wide receivers on their run or holding the kids accountable for being on time and being a hard worker. And if you’re not a hard worker, I will… [? look– ?] like, I’m all for it. It was just mean.
I tell our kids and I tell my son all the time, I train you hard because you can do it. I train you the hardest because I love you and want to see you succeed. Training hard and being mean seems to be where the gray area was with the Urban Meyer situation again from what these articles suggested.
LIZ LOZA: You have three children… two sons, one daughter. Your son TJ had a heart transplant last year. I have to ask, how is TJ?
GREG OLSEN: You know, he’s doing great. I appreciate you asking. Yes, he is nine years old. He is in third. He and his twin sister are both in third grade. And he’s doing great. On June 4 last year, he underwent a heart transplant which was nothing but a crazy experience. And last weekend, he hosted his first road baseball tournament.
LIZ LOZA: Ah.
GREG OLSEN: He did pretty well. He was there and plays in a good little team here in town. So for him to be able to do that after everything he’s been through is like such a blessing that yeah, we want to win games. Yeah, you want your child to go away and be upset? Of course not. But you know what. If that’s our biggest problem with him, God, we’re in luck.
LIZ LOZA: Greg, thank you very much for…
GREG OLSEN: Thank you,
LIZ LOZA: –today. Congratulations on “Youth Inc.”, the podcast and the foundation. And we are delighted to see you again on the booth for the 2022 season.
GREG OLSEN: Well, thank you very much guys. I appreciate your time. And it was fun chatting with you.