Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph is making his broadcast debut this week. No, it won't be for NFL training camp. It will be for the PGA Tour.
Rudolph is scheduled to provide commentary alongside actor Josh Duhamel for a charity scramble event featuring pro golfers Tommy Fleetwood, Matthew Wolf, Paul Casey, and Will Gordon on Wednesday. The event will raise money to support charities that fight social injustices in Minnesota.
While the event seems fun and the cause is certainly worthy, I'm most interested to see how Rudolph performs in the booth. He played in the 3M Celebrity Golf Challenge in February, so he should have some solid golf knowledge. But providing entertaining/interesting commentary in real-time requires practice and repetition, neither of which we've seen from Rudolph yet.
The NFL is known as a copycat league and one has to wonder whether Rudolph thinks broadcasters will follow the same mold. Fellow tight end Greg Olsen signed on to be on Fox's No. 2 analyst when his career is over. Does Rudolph want to be the next man up for a similar role? When Olsen was hurt in the past, he got reps in as an analyst on FOX. It seems Rudolph is following a similar route with this low-pressure broadcast situation.
Golf has a small, niche audience and a nine-hole scramble on the Wednesday before a tournament should have an even smaller, more niche audience. Couple that with the fact that Rudolph likes golf and the event is in Minnesota and you have a very low-pressure situation for a broadcast debut. It's not like when Jason Witten started on Monday Night Football and was exposed for being in over his head from the opening week to a national audience. This broadcast will have a much smaller and more forgiving viewership, which should allow Rudolph to dip his toe in without getting burned.
Of course, this is all conjecture. Rudolph could just want to have a laugh and support an important movement in his longtime home before he reports to camp with the rest of his teammates on July 28. Or perhaps Rudolph wants to follow in the footsteps of former tight ends like Mike Ditka and Tony Gonzalez, who have both enjoyed quality broadcasting careers. Either way, we'll learn more about his ability this week when he has some fun for a good cause.