If Greg Olsen didn't think he could still play football, he'd be calling Seahawks games this fall on television instead of suiting up for them on Sundays.
Olsen joins the Seahawks in his 14th season in the NFL after spending the last nine years with the Carolina Panthers. He has not been able to join his new teammates in person as restrictions in place due to the coronavirus has Olsen communicating digitally with the Seahawks via his business office in Charlotte.
This could be viewed as a hassle for a 35-year old tight end that could easily be entering a second career in broadcasting instead of continuing to play football this fall. But Olsen isn't ready to make that transition yet because he still believes he has something to offer on the field.
"I said if I wanted to go to TV, if I wanted to move on from football I could have done it three years ago," Olsen said in a video conference with reporters on Monday.
“I know I can play. I know what I’ve been able to achieve, but there are still some things that I haven’t been able to achieve. That was my main message to the teams that reached out. I told them I’m not just doing this to collect a paycheck and extend my career. I’ve done all that. I’m looking to go somewhere and win and perform at a high level and contribute. I'm not looking to ruin my career's work by just being a shell of myself in Year 14. If I thought that was the case, I would have retired.
“I know what I can still do. I know how my body feels and there’s nothing that I can’t do now that I haven't been able to do years back. I’m excited to join this group and this organization.”
Olsen has been training at home and has experience working through an offseason without a clear end date. He was with the Chicago Bears in 2011 during the lockout that left that season in jeopardy until the end of July when a new CBA was agreed upon. Olsen was then traded to the Panthers and had to learn a new team without a normal offseason in place.
"I've been used to training on my own and understanding what it takes to get myself ready for a season for a long time," Olsen said.
Until players are allowed to reconvene on a practice field together, Olsen is going to have to learn his new offense remotely. He's not going to be able to build an on-field connection with Russell Wilson, learn what it's like to play alongside tackles Duane Brown, Brandon Shell and Cedric Ogbuehi, or learn how do adapt to a Wilson scramble drill.
The virus restrictions could lead to a delayed or shortened training camp eventually as well. But Olsen feels confident he and the team will be able to get ready to go even with a shorter timetable.
"Whenever they tell us to show up for training camp I'll show up and be fine," Olsen said. "And I know if I can do it at 35, the 25 year olds better be able to do it too you know so I'm not worried about that and they give us a couple weeks (of) camp, a couple of preseason games or whatever, we'll be fine."
Olsen is happy to join Seattle's tight end room with Will Dissly, Jacob Hollister, Luke Willson and Colby Parkinson. He's absolutely open to helping the young group develop and impart any wisdom he can with his new colleagues. However, he wants to play and produce and made it clear he's not here just to be a veteran voice.
"While I'm going to be an open book and share where I can share and help where I can help you know I told the team you know don't bring me in," Olsen said. "If you just want me to be like a brother in the locker room, like, I'm here to play first and foremost. I'm here to play. I'm here to perform at a high level and contribute. Because I'm a big believer that your voice doesn't really matter if you can't play.
"I'm not gonna just take a backseat to a young guy and roll over and just say 'hey man, this is your the future and I'm just going to help you out.' It's just not my style. I'm here to play. And I'm going to play every snap until they take me out right and like that's just always how I've approached it. And that's not going to change now."
Photo Credit: SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 18: Greg Olsen #88 of the Carolina Panthers runs with the ball against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on October 18, 2015 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)