She didn’t have to, but Pamela Donielle Oliver finally broke her silence after being replaced by Erin Andrews as Fox’s go-to NFL sideline reporter. Andrews is almost 20 years her junior. Oliver is cool with that.
In a written statement published in Essence Magazine, the 53-year-old Dallas-native said literally all the right things. No bad blood, no conspiracy theories, no backhanded compliments — she didn’t have a bad word to say about anybody. Maybe that’s why so many NFL fans (most notably, WEEI radio shock-jock Kirk Minihane) took exception to Fox’s decision to replace their employee of over 18 years. She’s the best.
[Essence] Once the changes were announced, people started talking. Some asked, “Do you think it had something to do with your race?” No. I definitely do not. Others asked, “Does it have something to do with your age?” Well, maybe. The business is very demographic-oriented. As one executive said to me, Fox Sports will look radically different in the coming years. I assume that means they want to look younger. It’s not difficult to notice that the new on-air people there are all young, blond and “hot.” That’s not to say that Erin isn’t capable. I think she’s very capable. She’s also popular on Twitter and social media, so I can see how that would also make her highly sought after. Still, covering the NFL is a big deal. Stations like ABC and NBC entrust their programming to veterans. So when people talk about all networks making a turn to a particular type of girl on the sidelines, it doesn’t hold water.
Two weeks after meeting with my bosses, I woke up and said to myself, Okay, I’m supposed to learn something from this. My first step was to get back to my routine. Every morning I begin my day the same way: meditate, pray and affirm. I call it my “P.O. Power Hour” because it fortifies me. Through all the changes, I had abandoned the things that help me the most, and then I was wondering why I was so miserable! So I reinstated my Power Hour—I visualize what I want for my day, what I want for the big picture and what I hope for the world. Then I read the Bible until I’ve gotten the answer I need. With that, I began to feel better.
At times I’m ashamed of how tragic I was making things out to be. It’s just a job change. I’m not out on the streets. I’m not unemployed. Everybody wins: Fox gets its coveted reporter in the lead role and I get to do my sideline job for my twentieth and final year. I’m also looking forward to developing stories that interest me and delivering long-form pieces for FS1. That kind of work is like being in reporter heaven.
Don’t get me wrong, I love being on the sidelines. I love the ins and outs of the game. But I’m headed into this season knowing it’s time to say my good-byes. I’m going to savor every moment.
What a lovely human being, right?
You will be missed. Good night, sweet princess. (She’s still working games, just not the big national ones.)
Photo via Getty