Bob Raissman: Tom Brady retires from football again with historic TV deal in back pocket
NEW YORK — If at some point during his Wednesday retirement announcement, it would not have been surprising if Tom Brady said: “And now it’s on to my next adventure as an analyst for Fox Sports!”
Yet Brady never mentioned what apparently is his TV future. It’s no secret that in May 2022 Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch announced the network had signed Brady to fill the seat of Troy Aikman who split to ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” where he was eventually joined by his veteran partner Joe Buck. Brady’s Fox contract is reportedly worth $375 million over 10 years.
For that kind of “retirement” scratch, and a primo gig, it would have also been appropriate for Brady to alert the Free World of his next stop, a TV destination. Unless he’s having second thoughts about working as Fox’s No. 1 game analyst. Or unless Brady is not sure he’s ready to start the gig next season.
There are more than a few interested voices who believe Brady should make a clean, albeit temporary, break from the world of football. And that includes TV work. One industry source said this is more of an important “lifestyle” decision for Brady.
“He should do it for himself and his children,” the source said. “The more time he takes to make the transition, chances are he will find a lifestyle that benefits all involved. If that means not traveling to work in the Fox booth for at least a year, well, the microphone will still be there when he’s ready.”
The network doesn’t have to worry about anyone forgetting Brady should he sit out the 2023 season. If nothing else, his magnified absence will build on the mystique already surrounding him. And it’s doubtful Fox suits would mind deferring the $35 million annual payment they would owe him for next season.
Also, anticipation would build over when Brady would start. All the comments and commentary on how Brady will do in the booth would continue. It’s amazing how many media pundits already “know” Brady will flop. They make the prediction with no evidence, unless they have discovered some secret Tom Brady audition video.
Anyway, it’s not like Fox would have to scramble to find a replacement for Brady in 2023. It already is using Greg Olsen on its No. 1 team with play-by-play voice Kevin Burkhardt, who will retain that gig when, and if, Brady starts working.
While the non-buzz team lacks big game voices, Olsen and Burkhardt have developed a following based on their chemistry and insight. They are also benefitting from a Brady backlash.
Olsen has been characterized as Brady’s seat warmer, which has cast him in the everyman, underdog role. He’s kind of like the backup quarterback (Olsen was a three-time Pro Bowl tight end who played for 14 seasons) who fans pull for.
Burkhardt and Olsen will work Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Ariz. There has also been plenty of speculation about whether Brady will appear on Fox’s Super pregame or postgame show.
Unless his starting date at the network has been announced prior to the lights being turned off on the Super Bowl production, Brady will continue providing a healthy buzz around Fox’s NFL coverage.
Without having ever entered the broadcast booth.