Nearly a month after TJ was born, Greg Olsen and his wife, Kara, were able to bring their infant son home from the hospital Tuesday, reuniting him with his twin sister and making the Olsen family complete.
TJ was born with a congenital heart defect which required surgery and weeks of recovery, and he’s slated the undergo two more procedures in the coming months and years.
Greg Olsen joined The Drive on WFNZ in Charlotte to discuss his son’s health, his family and how the team’s owner, the organization and the city have supported him during such a trying time.
On how his son is doing:
“Everybody’s doing good. It feels like it’s been a long time coming and something we’ve been looking forward to for a long time, and we’re just thankful that the doctors were able to give him such good treatment, and his recovery was a little faster than everyone really anticipated. He’s home now, and obviously there’s some follow-up stuff that Kara and he needs at home, but for the most part he’s home and we can kind of settle in as a family now and enjoy these next couple months before the next surgery.”
On bringing his son home to be with his twin sister and the rest of the family early this week:
“It was the first night we were able to have them all together at home, and brought him up to the nursery and all that. So that was obviously a special moment. It was a little bittersweet when we brought Talbot home a couple weeks ago and weren’t able to bring the whole crew, and just knowing as we sat around at night that one of the pieces of the family was at the hospital, going through some tough times. So we’re really thankful and feel really fortunate with the outcome, how it’s been so far. And we just hope that the next couple big stages of surgery go as well as the first one.”
On the support he’s received from owner Jerry Richardson, the organization and the city of Charlotte:
“It means everything. It shows you that the people have their priorities straight with this organization. And that’s the kind of team, that’s the kind of people that you want to work for and play for. Sometimes I think, in this business, people really lose track of that. Don’t get me wrong, we all take this very seriously, and we all want to win and win every game, but sometimes the bigger picture gets lost between all of us, and I think sometimes things get put back in perspective a little bit. It’s unfortunate that it had to be something like this, something so serious, but to see the true colors of people in situations when you need them the most is really the true test. And everybody kind of rallied around us and really was there for us through a really tough time when we first got the diagnosis back in the spring. Obviously what Mr. Richardson has done everyone has heard about, and I couldn’t be more thankful that he brought me here and then the help and the care we’ve got from the city and the hospital. It’s unbelievable how much sense everything makes looking back — just a year ago being brought here and not knowing we’d need the type of care that this city has to offer, and to happen to be right in our own backyard was amazing.”
On the intersection between the team’s struggles and his personal struggles:
“It’s been a rough couple months, but it doesn’t make the losses any easier, it doesn’t make them any harder. The reason they’re hard is you know how much time and effort the team and how much sweat and pain and everything that you put into each week and each game. And for the outcomes to go the way they did in such a heart-breaking way just makes the whole thing difficult. And then when it’s time to go home, though, that’s when my family needed me to be dad. And sometimes it’s not easy for us guys in this league to separate the two — you always end up bringing your work home with you, good or bad — and I really was trying to be aware of that. I didn’t need to bring my problems from practice home to my wife, who had a lot bigger fish to fry.”