By Lewis Gould
Eagles training camp is still 10 days away, but, according to SI.com, a blockbuster trade has occurred that will affect the way Birds’ fans enjoy their viewing experience.
Pam Oliver has been replaced by Erin Andrews as the sideline reporter for Fox’s No. 1 team for NFL broadcasts.
Oliver has been a mainstay on Fox NFC telecasts since the network started its NFL affiliation in 1994. She is a great reporter, whose scoops included the December 2007 network report that Donovan McNabb had mentioned he knew he was not going to be the Eagles in 2008. The Eagles QB was quoted as saying that “his days in Philadelphia were numbered” and “he sees an organization distancing itself from him.”
A day later Mr. Passive Aggressive denied saying anything to Oliver and she’s left to defend herself and her story:
“Everything he said, I’m convinced he meant to say,” Oliver told the Inquirer’s Bob Brookover about her pre-game interview with McNabb. “I’m a little shocked and dumbfounded that it has all been denied. I can’t believe it, and I don’t understand it.”
And after this season, her 20th on NFL sidelines, Oliver will be switched to other duties within Fox Sports, including “long-form pieces, specials, major interviews and some producing as well,” according to the SI.com article that broke the news Monday morning.
“Disappointment is not really a word I’d use right now because I’ve had some weeks to process it,” Oliver said. “I think my emotions during the season will be sadness because I had been around that group for a decade.”
She added: “But you have to move forward and deal with what is on your plate. I went through a range of emotions, but as I speak with you today, disappointment has passed me and I have reached a point of trying to move forward with some sadness.”
Oliver first learned of the decision in April during a meeting with Fox executives, who originally told her she would be removed immediately from the sidelines altogether. But she talked them into one last year, with the No. 2 broadcast team of Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch.
“To go from the lead crew to no crew was a little shocking,” Oliver said. “I said I wanted to do a 20th year (on the sidelines). I expressed to them that I was not done and had something to offer. Again, I think it was predetermined coming in. 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.”
Two years ago — a.k.a. when Fox hired Andrews, now 36, away from ESPN.
Still, Oliver says she has no problem with Andrews and that no one at Fox has ever given her a hard time about her age.
Oliver turned 53 in March, and women in their 50s on sports television have long been an endangered species. Oliver said no one at Fox has ever indicated that they have a problem with her age. “But I live in the real world and I know that television tends to get younger and where women are concerned,” Oliver said. “Just turn on your TV. It’s everywhere. And I’m not saying these younger girls don’t deserve a chance. I know I’ve had my turn.”
While she will clearly miss sideline reporting, Oliver signed a new, multi-year contract with Fox last week and expressed excitement for her new role. Fox Sports president Eric Shanks says the network feels the same way.
“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,” Shanks said. “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.”