Tom Brady is headed to the booth … eventually.
FOX dropped a bombshell on its earnings call Tuesday, announcing the seven-time Super Bowl winner will become its lead NFL analyst upon his retirement. Whenever Brady is done playing, he will join Kevin Burkhardt to form the network’s No. 1 broadcast team. Brady has signed “a long-term agreement” and “will also serve as an ambassador for us, particularly with respect to client and promotional initiatives,” according to a FOX release.
So many thoughts …
* Brady has been mentioned as a potential TV target for a while, so it’s not a complete shock. But it still is a bit surprising that he actually wants to do the job. Especially after Peyton Manning was able to leverage the substantial interest in him and basically invent his own medium with the Manningcast.
Yes, FOX is likely giving Brady an ungodly amount of money. And yes, he could certainly have certain perks built into his deal that allow him to tailor his schedule. But being a game analyst is a lot of work and travel no matter how you carve it up. And it’s a high-profile, nowhere-to-hide challenge for a guy who has always done everything at the top of his field and is now jumping into the deep end of a completely different field. Credit to Brady, who is certainly going for it. He could have easily opted for a low-risk studio role or his own Manningcast knock-off.
* Gut reaction: Brady will be better than Drew Brees was in his rookie season, but not necessarily as good as Tony Romo. And that’s probably more than enough for FOX. The ambassador role — something 99% of America will not give a second of thought to — is likely of the most value to the network anyway.
* You have to think Greg Olsen still gets the No. 1 analyst role for the time being. If FOX didn’t have the Super Bowl this coming season, a caretaker analyst alongside Burkhardt might make sense. Especially if you think Brady may only play this final season. But FOX won’t want to roll someone like Moose Johnston or Mark Schlereth out for a Super Bowl.
* If the Buccaneers don’t make the Super Bowl and Brady retires quickly, could he be in the booth for Super Bowl LVII?
* This development hammers home how ridiculous the NFL broadcast arms race has become. Would it shock anyone if Patrick Mahomes gets signed to a futures deal next? It was crazy when the guys calling the games began making more than most of the guys playing in the games. But now they also have no experience doing it, yet still get the same payday? Moreover, it’s not like these are low-stakes endeavors. An NFL broadcast team is critical to a network’s existence. Yet FOX is taking a big, and expensive, roll of the dice here.
James Kratch can be reached at [email protected]