I never thought there would be another column about Tom Brady. At least not so soon.
He seems to command attention whether it’s in the thick of the NFL season, or months after.
But here we are, not long after the great one ended his all-too-brief retirement to play at least another season. He will be 45 before they 2022 campaign begins.
I was thinking how the NFL, as popular a sport as it is, never seems to take a breath.
I am aware fans can’t get enough.
The season ends, and the combine isn’t far away. Free Agency.
Then the NFL draft, then the revealing of the schedule.
The NFL networks shows entire games from the past season.
I wonder what would happen if the pro football calendar included a quiet time.
Say, a couple of months of down time, so when the various practices begin again and camp starts up, fans can say they are now ready after a brief hiatus to jump into the whirlwind once more.
We could use the same for Tom Brady.
Some quiet time.
But that’s not the way it is.
Brady, who apparently is never very far from the headlines, has signed a 10-year deal with Fox Sports to become their lead TV expert-analyst when he retires from the game for real.
Brady with Fox
I’ve been besieged with questions about Brady becoming a broadcaster, ranging from why he’d do it, to why Fox wants him, to why are they paying him so much money, (reportedly $375 million for 10 years), to whether he’d be any good, etc, etc, etc.
When Troy Aikman departed from ESPN, along with his play-by-play partner Joe Buck, Fox was left with an empty booth to call their top games this coming season including the Super Bowl.
Fox actually will air two of the next three Super Bowls, so working the top game on that network carries huge significance.
I say this, knowing I’ve said that people tune in to see the matchup on the field, not the announcers.
In fact, many, if not most viewers have no idea who the announcers are when the telecast begins.
Of course, practically all those who watch are aware of the men in the booth for the Super Bowl, knowing which network will carry the game.
Still, fans will watch the game regardless of who does the talking.
There is the factor of prestige and stature of the voices who call the big game.
ESPN felt it needed that for their future Super Bowl game, and for their Monday Night Football presentation when they went after Aikman and Buck.
The other networks are of the same mind, and rightly so. The guys describing the action of any lead game during the season, or the playoffs and the Super Bowl have to be a cut above. At least.
So, Fox went out and got the biggest football figure possible.
For Brady, his salary will go beyond what he earned annually for 22 years of playing, winning championships and being regarded as the greatest ever.
It will also keep in front of the football world which is something we’ve come to realize he desires.
He won’t jump to the booth until he’s done playing.
It could be this season, it could be longer.
No one knows.
Fox doesn’t care. They grabbed a guy that transcends the sport he plays.
You have to mention the likes of Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, and Tiger Woods who are icons well beyond the playing field.
As someone related to me, Tom Brady is a name grandmothers know.
He will become a Fox star, representing them in all areas of their network.
He will be a symbol of greatness who will be on display wherever the network sees fit.
They will get their money’s worth.
When folks decry the exorbitant numbers, I would answer the way I do whenever anyone asks why a team is paying so much for a player.
I say, first of all, they can. Secondly, they can obviously afford it, otherwise they wouldn’t.
Thirdly, they know more than the rest of us how to run their organization.
That’s what they do.
We only react.
Time will tell how good he performs on the air when he does begin his announcing career.
Obviously Fox thought of this very important issue.
There are those who have only heard his comments in answering questions by the media during his career.
The fact that he has been relatively dry and uniforming is irrelevant.
Brady, himself, has admitted he has never really talked about how he really felt in those Q and A’s when he’s been at the lectern.
I know from my experience in covering all sports, that coaches and players are rarely revealing in interviews.
The give knee-jerk answers. By the numbers.
Why tell the media anything?
What will count will be how the greatest quarterback of all-time looks at situations in a game and gives the audience his feedback.
As for being truthful, even critical, there are ways to get it done without being harsh or cruel.
John Madden never was.
I want to be clear that I am not being a Pollyanna when it comes to Fox Sports. Yes, I worked for them the last 27 years of my career.
But I want it known that I always intend to be objective about the business, and will continue to be.
I sincerely believe the signing of Tom Brady was a home run for Fox Sports.
Now, we’ll see how it plays out.
But I also sincerely hope I can stay away from TB #12 stories for awhile.
We’ll see how that plays out as well.