There are a lot of things that shock me, but Pam Oliver being out on FOX’s No. 1 NFL team is not one of them. After the last two seasons of scrutiny and then the hire of Erin Andrews from ESPN in 2012, many would say there can only be one ‘Queen Bee’ on the sidelines. Starting this September, we will no longer see Oliver on the sideline reporting alongside, Joe Buck and Troy Aikman. Oliver who has held down the position for 19 years will be moved to the No. 2 team of Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch to complete her 20th season, where then after she will be relieved of her sideline duties all together. Filling Oliver’s place will be FOX’s new darling, Erin Andrews. According to Oliver, the FOX executives came to her home in Atlanta where they gave her the news. She then in-turn asked to complete her 20th season, and they agreed.
“I think it was predetermined coming in,” Oliver told SI.com. “Not at that meeting, but two years ago it was determined that no matter what I did or did not do, a change would be made for this year.”
While many have blasted Erin Andrews (who knows why?) Oliver has always taken the classy, high road when taking about Andrews. However, Oliver did have this light to shed on the situation.
“I live in the real world and I know that television tends to get younger where women are concerned. Just turn on your TV. It’s everywhere,” she added when she spoke to SI.com. “And I’m not saying these younger girls don’t deserve a chance. I know I’ve had my turn.”
However, this isn’t the end of the road for FOX and Oliver, they would be crazy to let her go altogether. Oliver has signed a new multi-year contract with Fox and is expected to be on the air for a long time.
“Clearly it’s an expanded role that meets the needs of all the big events that Fox and Fox Sports 1 covers as well as the NFL on Fox,” Fox Sports president Eric Shanks told SI.com. “I can’t think of a more respected person in the entire industry than Pam Oliver, and when you find out that Pam is going to be doing the interview, I don’t think you would say that anyone else would do the interview better. Her being a part of the FOX family now and in the future is really important to us.”
This has been writing on the wall for a long time. Fans saw it, colleagues saw it, even Oliver herself acknowledged it. When it comes to the best-of-the-best Pam Oliver is at the top of my list.
I don’t want to re-hash how hard it is to be a woman in sports or even a black women in sports, we don’t have enough time, but this season I want to really celebrate the good work that Oliver has done for so long. Many of us (man or woman) would love the have the type of career and access that Oliver has made look so easy for so long. While I did have critical things to say about Oliver’s appearance during the last two seasons, it came from a place of expectation. At a certain place in your life or career, you just expect certain things to be and look a certain way, it had nothing to do with the amazing job that she has done and continues to do on the field. So let’s put all of that behind us, and start anew to embrace who and what Pam Oliver stands for to all of us.
As for Andrews, there’s no need for me to be angry with her or bash FOX for the decision they made, this is her job. Nonetheless, Andrews is young, she still has a lot to learn. If she’s smart, she would enlist Oliver as a mentor and teacher to help her along the way. Andrews is sharp, she knows football and she’s going to give the network that ‘American Girl’ look. But before we hang Andrews out to dry, let’s see what she can really do. I’d like to see how she takes getting hit in the head with a football…just kidding.
Congratulations to Oliver on starting her 20th season on the sidelines of America’s favorite game, and good luck on the new adventure ahead.
Your Jersey Girlfriend,