After being replaced by Erin Andrews on the “A team” last season, Pam Oliver will return to the NFL sidelines for Fox Sports for two more years, starting in September, reports The Wrap.
“I was shocked, floored, a monumental surprise,” the 20-year veteran said about getting a call from Fox Sports President Eric Shanks and Executive Vice President John Entz asking if she would return to sideline reporting for the 2015 season, Sports Illustrated reported in a story published Monday.
“I think I was silent for a good 10 seconds and then screamed out, ‘What?” Oliver told SI as she opened up about the new offer. “I thought: ‘This makes no sense. What are they talking about?’”
Oliver, who turned 54 on Tuesday, was replaced on the field by “Dancing With the Stars” co-host Andrews last year and moved to the number two Fox team with Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch.
The official announcement of Oliver’s demotion sparked public outcry last July and sent ripples through the sports world. The veteran reporter, who joined Fox in 1995 as part of the network’s number-one broadcast team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman, admitted that she was “hurt” by the demotion. “It’s not difficult to notice that the new on-air people there are all young, blond and ‘hot,’” she told Essence Magazine in September.
“The emphasis at the meeting [when she was told about her relegation] was always placed on how they saw what was next for me versus what I saw would be next for me,” Oliver said. “I felt I was not done. I still felt I had more to offer with sideline reporting. I think that took them by surprise a little bit.”
After looking into opportunities at other outlets, she eventually negotiated a deal with Fox to do a “farewell tour” last season for the network, the huge success of which impressed her bosses — who then decided they wanted her back.
“The call was so completely out of the blue,” Oliver said Monday. “I also felt it was one of those things like, ‘Why would we go back to this possibility?’
“I felt we had all come through a pretty big ruckus and that door had been closed, dead-bolted, chained up. I had fully weaned myself from that role so to have that door open again, and I had difficulty wrapping my brain around it. So I put the decision on the shelf.”
Oliver finally decided two days after Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 3 that she would return, but not just for one year. She will be back on the number two team of Burkhardt and Lynch for the 2015 and 2016 NFL seasons, which is the duration of her contract with Fox Sports, according to SI.
“I wasn’t that interested in just one year,” Oliver said. “So this is great. I know that for the next two years we are a true team and I am not some guest. I think we will really take it to another level next season.”