PHOENIX (AP)Greg Olsen and his teammates at Wayne Hills High School in New Jersey knew it was a big game when Kevin Burkhardt showed up for interviews to prepare to call their game on local radio over the weekend.
More than two decades later, Burkhardt and Olsen will be together in the booth for the biggest football game of the season.
They will call their first Super Bowl for Fox on Sunday when the Kansas City Chiefs take on the Philadelphia Eagles.
”I mean, it’s crazy, the full circle nature of Kevin and I’s relationship from where it started as a 16-year-old kid in high school who was just happy the local radio station guy wants to cover his game,” Olsen said. ”He’s been by my side the entire time, and I’m very grateful for that comfort and friendship. We all know everything is about relationships and being around people you enjoy. I think that’s what makes this job a lot of fun.”
Burkhardt’s career began in North Jersey as the sports director of a tiny AM station. He called some of Olsen’s games when he was a standout at Wayne Hills.
As Olsen was winding down a 15-year NFL career, he expressed interest in becoming an analyst once his playing days were over. His audition with Fox ended up being with Burkhardt.
In 2017, while playing for the Carolina Panthers, Olsen was part of a three-person booth with Burkhardt and Charles Davis for a game when the Panthers were on their bye week.
In 2020, Burkhardt and Olsen worked five XFL games. After Olsen’s retirement in 2021, he joined Burkhardt again as Fox’s No. 2 crew on NFL games.
When Joe Buck and Troy Aikman moved to ESPN’s ”Monday Night Football” for the 2022 season, they moved up to Fox’s top team.
Fox Sports CEO and Executive Producer Eric Shanks has been pleased with Burkhardt and Olsen’s work this season.
”The amazing thing about people like Greg is kind of that essence of John Madden is that you’re a teacher and an analyst. If you have that gear of seeing things that other people don’t and explaining it, that’s the perfect combination,” Shanks said.
While there have been 35 Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks, the number of announcers who have called the game is smaller. Burkhardt becomes only the 12th to handle play-by-play duties for what is the most-watched television program every year. Al Michaels and Pat Summerall have the most with 11.
Burkhardt joins a group that includes Dick Enberg, Curt Gowdy, and Jim Nantz.
”I know how rare it is and how much of an honor it is,” Burkhardt said. ”I looked up to those guys throughout my childhood and adulthood even. I feel very lucky to be in that group and be mentioned in the same breath.”
Burkhardt, who has been with Fox since 2013, said he and Olsen maintained the same approach during the week they had even when they were the second crew. The only changes have been more viewers and cameras.
”It’s been seamless, not just on the game but the whole week,” Burkhardt said. ”We’re talking through things, and I’m picking his brain on certain ideas, and it just feels so easy.”
Erin Andrews said the switch from Buck and Aikman to Burkhardt and Olsen has provided new energy to the crew.
”You can feel the excitement they have. We’re doing Cowboys-Packers at Lambeau Field, and they start playing `Jump Around’ in the fourth quarter, and Greg’s like, `This is awesome.’ It’s been a cool jolt for all of us,” Andrews said.
Olsen, who becomes the 24th analyst to call a Super Bowl, has emerged as one of the top analysts despite working under pressure this season.
Fox announced last May that Tom Brady would become the network’s No. 1 analyst and team up with Burkhardt after he retired.
Brady said last Monday that he won’t begin with Fox until the 2024 season after he announced on Feb. 1 that he was wrapping up his playing career for good.
That announcement was a relief to Olsen and the rest of the crew that they would be in place for another season.
”To know now that we’re going to be able to go past this Sunday and move into next season is a big relief for me and something I’m excited about,” Olsen said. ”I’ll approach this game the same way I did the entire year. You don’t know how many of these moments you’re going to get. As a player, you never know how many Super Bowls you will get to. We’ve had so many cool moments this year, but it can be fleeting and go fast.
”I’ll try to continue to improve and just keep doing what we’re doing.”
Olsen said the biggest key to Sunday’s game will be Kansas City trying to prevent Philadelphia from jumping to a big lead early. The Eagles have scored on their opening drives 12 times, including both playoff games.
”The opening possession is going to tell us a lot. If I’m Kansas City, I have the best player in the world (Patrick Mahomes), but Philadelphia is such an aggressive team early that you’ve got to match or exceed that,” he said. ”If the Chiefs fall behind, the Eagles will run at you, and those pass rushers will come at you. They’re built to play with the lead.”
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