Does Witten's Return to the NFL Threaten Olsen's Exodus to Broadcasting?

Less than a year after retiring and landing the high profile Monday Night Football color analyst position, Jason Witten has dropped the mic to put back on the pads. Witten announced today that he he was coming out of retirement for his 16th NFL season, citing “The fire inside of me to compete and play this game is just burning too strong.” Witten’s short career as a broadcaster was punctuated by fan criticism and highlighted by verbal bloopers. It was a bumpy introduction to the business and most didn’t take it easy on him either. The beating Witten took in the booth was obviously more daunting than the one he will take on the field. Every blow he was also seemingly accompanied by chatter about Greg Olsen pursuing a career in broadcasting.

Olsen has filled in on studio shows with Fox and called a Minnesota Vikings game during the bye week in 2017. Rumors abound that both Fox and ESPN have courted Olsen, who has two years left on his contract and has battled a reoccurring foot injury now twice surgically repaired. Olsen has been adamant that he wants to get back on the field. There has been a level of frustration, however, that has visibly accompanied this rehab process. Olsen spoke optimistically about the second surgery recently, reporting that “guys who he has talked to who have had this type of injury have found that the second surgery generally fixes the problem.”

Ron Rivera was asked at his media appearance about Olsen’s commitment to returning, where he explicitly stated that Olsen verbalized he is coming back. News of Witten’s return to football may complicate the decision a bit. Olsen does have two years on his contract, but an open slot on Monday Night Football with ESPN who is desperate to improve a highly criticized crew from last year may make for some particularly attractive terms. If Olsen were to hang up the cleats, he would have to pay back a little over 3 million dollars for the comfort of the booth.

With 6.5 million at stake, the general sentiment is that is that Olsen won’t opt for the booth just yet. Witten’s retirement does complicate the decision a little. Sure, Olsen will find a desk whenever he does retire. MNF is a special seat, however, and it isn’t likely to be open twice three times in three years. If that little tiny bone in his foot remains a problem, grabbing the mic may not be such a bad gig.

By Tony Dunn
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