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Greg Olsen on Tom Brady: No correlation between great player and great broadcaster

Despite losing $7 million per year by being relegated from the No. 1 team at Fox to No. 2, Greg Olsen is still winning.

In an age where everyone and everything has become naturally polarizing, Olsen has yet to attract a core group of haters. That’s even less likely to happen this year, because he’s been taken out of a job he does well simply because Fox threw a giant bag of cash at someone with huge name recognition, incredible on-field accomplishments, and . . . absolutely no experience calling games. Olsen emerges from the bizarre move as a sympathetic figure, whose B Team work will speak for itself in direct comparison and contrast to his A Team replacement, Tom Brady.

Olsen recently made some surprisingly candid remarks about Brady’s prospects as a broadcaster. Olsen’s words are also entirely accurate.

Speaking to USA Today, via, Olsen started by saying Brady recently asked Olsen for input on the job that Brady is taking from Olsen (now that’s chutzpah, folks). Olsen then shared his big-picture viewpoint on the transition Brady is about to make from playing to talking about playing.

“I had a chance to speak with Tom a couple of weeks ago, and he was just kind of picking my brain about the prep and the industry and what to expect and whatnot,” Olsen said. “So I don’t know. Every guy has their own journey in sports broadcasting. I think everyone thinks it’s easy. I think everyone thinks getting up there and calling a live football game for three hours off the cuff, and being able to get in, get out, deal with the flow of the game, the players, the schemes, the terminology — there’s a lot going on during a game, and I think some guys really transition to it well and take to it pretty quickly. And other guys haven’t. We’ve seen a mixed bag of results over the last couple of years.”

Yes we have. And playing accomplishments don’t mean jack. Joe Montana, Brady’s boyhood idol, was not suited for the job. Bill Walsh, Montana’s coach and one of the smartest human beings who ever lived (football or otherwise), was not suited for the job.

Brady enters with a presumption he’ll be great. At very best, he’ll meet that expectation. Hooray?

“His playing career and his resume and whatnot is an all-timer,” Olsen said regarding Brady. “So we’ll see how the year goes. I don’t think there’s any real correlation between being a great player or an average player, and how that correlates to being a great broadcaster or an average broadcaster. I think we’ve seen examples on both ends of that spectrum. So we’ll see how it all plays out.”

Olsen’s candor and accurate observations reconfirm that he should still be in a No. 1 job, with Fox or elsewhere. He did nothing to lose his spot. Fox decided to bust the budget and chase a star. And now Fox has to justify its investment in Brady ($375 million over 10 years) by doing ill-advised things like giving Brady top billing over the first game he’ll call, Cowboys at Browns in Week 1.

Only one guy in broadcasting history would deserve that kind of treatment. And John Madden would have refused to let Fox (or any other network he worked for) do it. Which is one of the reasons he was so great. There was a humility to his approach that made him naturally endearing to fans.

Putting it another way, “the John Madden roast” is something he would have eaten in less than 30 minutes.

So if Brady is picking brains to prepare for his new job, he should be talking to anyone and everyone who worked with John Madden.