The final year of Pam Oliver's Fox contract hasn't exactly been a smooth one.<firstname.lastname@example.org>
This is the life she has chosen.
That is as good a way as any to rationalize the season of twist and turns Pam Oliver, Fox’s veteran sideline reporter, has experienced. Her road to Sunday’s Super Bowl telecast was pitted with potholes of emotion, physical challenge and the kind of competition typical in a cut-throat business.
In August, while standing on the sidelines at Met Life preparing to work a Colts-Giants exhibition game, she was hit flush in the face by a pass thrown by Colts backup QB Chandler Harnish. Oliver suffered a concussion. She was forced to spend five days inside a dark room in her house.
In October, she came here to host a Super Bowl breakfast for business leaders, dropped a few tongue-in-cheek lines about New Yorkers complete with tweaks of Jets fans and Rex Ryan, creating a fierce backlash she didn’t expect or deserve.
All season long, Oliver, who has been with Fox for 19 years, 12 working as sideline reporter with the No. 1 team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, watched the Foxies continue treating Erin Andrewslike a queen, giving her a major push on college football and NFL telecasts. Andrews has joined Oliver on the sidelines during the postseason. The Foxies all but fit Oliver for a second-team jersey.
Or were they just greasing the skids for her exit?
For as the countdown to Super Bowl XLVIII winds down, so do the days on the final year of Oliver’s Fox contract. She said she fully expects to have a “nice” negotiation, revealing there already have been some talks. Still, her focus remains solely on Sunday’s game.
Richard Shermam goes off during an interview with Erin Andrews.
“Look, it (that Sunday could be her last game for Fox) has entered my mind. I’m a realist,” she said. “My husband cautioned me, admonished me really, not to treat this as a farewell tour.”
Easier said than done.
Lambeau Field is her favorite NFL stadium. Oliver was there earlier this month when San Francisco eliminated Green Bay in a first-round playoff tilt. As she walked off the field she was overcome by a certain sadness.
“I got this flood of emotions and stormed off the field like I just lost the game. What if I’m never there as a reporter again?” she asked. “I would be snapping pictures everywhere if I felt like (this season) was the end. I think that’s a dangerous way to do a season. You won’t see me looking over my shoulder. I get a say in this as well.”
If Oliver did choose to look back, she would see Andrews’ smiling face. Her countenance comes with questions. Like would the Foxies move Andrews in to work with Buck and Aikman next season?
“All this stuff comes with the territory. She (Andrews) is a high-profile person. A lot of attention is paid because people are curious about her,” Oliver said. “They want to start this competition. And all of a sudden I’m answering questions walking through airports. Things like: ‘Are you being pushed out?’ Or, ‘What’s going on?’ Or, ‘What’s the speculation?’
“Well, there’s plenty of speculation,” Oliver said. “But until somebody comes to me and says, ‘Thank you, you’ve had a nice run,’ it’s my job.”
Oliver could only stand and listen while Richard Sherman screamed into the Fox microphone on Championship Sunday, further inflating Andrews' persona, not only during the wild interview but as the subject of subsequent inquisitions.
Pam Oliver suffers a concussion earlier this season after being hit in the face by errant throw.
Through all these years Oliver has been consistent. One who asks so many questions can’t duck them. She never has. “In hindsight?” Oliver asked after we wondered what she thought of Andrews interview with Sherman.
“I was listening in my ear and I’m thinking, ‘Oh boy, he’s controlling the interview,” she said. “I always felt that when you get a player immediately after a game, you factor in that they are really emotional. I’m not saying she did anything wrong, but in a situation like that you (should) quickly turn the interview into let’s get back to your team winning the game.”
Suddenly, Oliver stopped.
“I don’t know, I just feel a little uncomfortable going back and second-guessing (Andrews’ interview),” Oliver said. “But I just feel you should have another question in your back pocket (to move the interview along).”
Oliver will be on the Seahawks sideline Sunday. Before kickoff, before she goes to work, where will her mind take her? Will she reminisce about the past, either ancient or recent? Will she think, even for one second, that she is working her final game?
Or will she find emotional rescue looking up to her comfort zone, the crew in the broadcast booth whom she’s worked with for all these years. People who have all shared personal ups and downs.
“We’re so connected. We know each other. We laugh at each other,” she said “It’s a family.”
For Pam Oliver, one to lean on.