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The Rush: Greg Olsen on the Deshaun Watson gamble, Urban Meyer debacle and more

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Current sports broadcaster and former NFL star Greg Olsen joins The Rush, chatting with Liz about the topsy turvy quarterback landscape in the NFL, the Browns’ gamble on Deshaun Watson, where Urban Meyer went wrong in Jacksonville, the fashion mastery of his former teammate Cam Newton and the big business that is sports broadcasting. Plus, as a parent and coach of young children, Greg is re-discovering the wild world of youth sports and taking us along for the ride with his podcast Youth Inc., produced by Audiorama. Check it out here!

Video Transcript

LIZ LOZA: What the people really want to know is whether or not you'll dress like Cam on air at least once.

GREG OLSEN: You know what? Could you imagine? [LAUGHS]

LIZ LOZA: I mean, the fedora?

GREG OLSEN: I just wish-- I just wish I had the self-confidence to dress like that. I think I would be so insecure, like--

LIZ LOZA: You do not strike me as someone who is lacking and--

GREG OLSEN: I'm not-- I wear a hoodie and a hat 99% of my life. The thing I'd say about Cam and his outfits, like, when he walked in, it could be the most ridiculous ensemble you've ever seen. And you'd be like, he actually 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's 245 pounds. He doesn't have an ounce of fat. He's like the guy in like, the Hollister ad. He's like the--


GREG OLSEN: He's like the-- he's the marble statue mannequin at the front of the store in the mall where you put every outfit you put on. You're like, that looks great, but I could never wear that.

LIZ LOZA: I'm here with current sports broadcaster and former NFL star Greg Olson. How are you doing today, Greg?

GREG OLSEN: I'm doing great. Thanks for having me on.

LIZ LOZA: Let's talk quarterbacks immediately from jump because the quarterback landscape has been absolutely wild this off-season. And I want to know from your opinion, what was the most consequential move that's been made at the position so far?

GREG OLSEN: Wow, I mean, there's been a lot. I mean, I think you'd have to-- obviously Aaron Rodgers, he's dominated the last couple of years. The headlines, there was a lot of speculation about whether he was going to retire. Or if he did decide to play, was it going to still be in Green Bay?

I think a big one, though, you see a quarterback like Russell Wilson go from the NFC into a very competitive AFC, especially in the AFC West. It seems like the old veterans are now in the NFC, like Brady and Aaron Rodgers. And then you got all like, the young kind of upstarts in the AFC that are going to play for another decade.

LIZ LOZA: I'm going to ask you since you wear various hats to put on your GM cap. And, you know, I want to know whether you would have made the play for Deshaun Watson given all that had to be considered.

GREG OLSEN: I think knowing what we know, it's very messy. I think you can see that the team in the NFL is almost the way they structured the contract is almost hedging that he might get suspended. And his agent did a great job only making $1 million of that in play this year. And then the other 245 or whatever it is would be in years after that to plan for in the event that the NFL does come down and suspend him for violating the personal conduct policy for the 2022 season.

So I think there's still a lot to play out there. I think the bottom line is Cleveland obviously felt comfortable enough with their own investigation, the NFL's investigation, where things stood from a legal matter that they were able to go out. There's no question that Deshaun Watson-- I mean, prior to last season, he was one of the top five quarterbacks in the NFL.

He really changes the future of your organization if you can acquire him. And they made a big gamble. They made a big bet. And as is in any case, the time will tell. And we will see whether it was a bet that paid off or a bet that comes back to set back the franchise. So we'll see.

LIZ LOZA: We talked about the turnover at the quarterback position. But there's been plenty of turnover in the booth. Joe Buck and Troy Aikman out of the picture at Fox. Will you be moving into the A team?

GREG OLSEN: You know, I wish. I get asked that question a lot. And I would love nothing more than to break that news right now with you on the show. But we're not there yet. It's definitely a great opportunity and one that I know a lot of people would love to have a chance at getting that seat. There's only a few of them. But we'll see how it plays out.

LIZ LOZA: How about the 30 mil a year? Are you interested in that too?

GREG OLSEN: That yeah. So I think that negotiation would go, like, 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 kind of nuts that some broadcasters are making more money than NFL quarterback?

GREG OLSEN: I think it's amazing. I think it's a trend that really needs to continue to grow.


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 deflect from that at all. It's crazy money. But in the confines of multibillion-dollar TV deals, it really doesn't move the needle in the [? grant ?] in the huge scale of things.

And I think what these networks are seeing now with social media and instant fan engagement and instant response is everybody's a critic. And everybody's got an opinion. And you go on Twitter during an NFL game. And the broadcasters are trending when you're paying billions of dollars to broadcast these games that millions of people tuning in want to be entertained. And at the end of the day, that's really what it's all about.

LIZ LOZA: You're a co-founder of the podcast production company, Audiorama. And you happen to host its 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 father was our high school football coach. He coached high school football for 40 years. We just grew up around the youth sports kind of ecosystem. But it was very different then. The youth sports environment now that I'm raising my three kids in is vastly different.

The amount of decisions that these families have to make at 8, 9, 10 years old is mind-blowing. And I found myself sitting with my wife and saying, are we handling this right? Are we providing the needs that each one of our three children-- I have a daughter and two sons-- with very different interests, very different needs? Are we parenting them appropriately? Is it too much?

There's like, all these like, crazy decisions. And then we'd find ourselves with other families. And they're all having 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've got to go out and find the people who do have these perspective and do have this. And that was really the inspiration behind "Youth Inc."

LIZ LOZA: You have a very clear understanding of how you want to coach these kids. And it kind of reminds me, frankly, of what we're hearing-- the story we're hearing about Urban Meyer. I'm wondering what your thoughts are on the oftentimes unsavory, shall we say, culture of the way adult coaches treat athletes at both the youth and professional levels.

GREG OLSEN: Yeah, I'm a firm believer. And whether you're coaching a 10-year-old or a 35-year-old is you're coaching problems. You're coach-- you're correcting problems, mistakes. You're not condemning people. Coaching and holding people accountable for mistakes is very different than making things personal attacks.

And it seemed like in the Urban Meyer allegations-- and again, there's always rumor and speculation. And who knows what's true and what's not. But the stories that were presented, it felt very personal. It felt like he was not correcting wide receivers on their route running or holding kids accountable on being on time and being a hard worker. And if you're not a hard worker, I'm going to-- [? look-- ?] like, I'm all for all that. It just felt mean.

I tell our kids and I tell my son all the time, I coach you hard because you can do it. I coach you hardest because I love you and want to see you succeed. Coaching 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've got three kids-- two sons, one daughter. Your son TJ had a heart transplant last year. I have to ask, how is TJ doing?

GREG OLSEN: You know, he's doing awesome. I appreciate you asking. Yeah, he's nine. He's in third grade. Him and his twin sister are both in third grade. And he's doing awesome. June 4 of last year, he underwent a heart transplant which was just a wild experience. And just this past weekend, he had his first travel baseball tournament.


GREG OLSEN: He did pretty good. He was out there and plays on good little team here in town. So like, 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 the games. Yeah, do you want your kid to strike out and be upset? Of course not. But you know what. If that's our biggest problem with him, god, we're lucky.

LIZ LOZA: Greg, thanks so much for--

GREG OLSEN: Thank you,

LIZ LOZA: --today. Congrats on "Youth Inc.", the podcast and the foundation. And we are pumped to see you back in the booth for the 2022 season.

GREG OLSEN: Well, thank you guys so much. I appreciate your time. And it was fun chatting with you.