Tom Brady will join Fox Sports as his lead NFL analyst when his football career is over.
Whenever that may be.
Brady, the seemingly ageless superstar quarterback, is fully intending to suit up for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this coming season at age 45. But he will eventually retire – presumably – and when he does, the Fox job will be waiting for him.
Lachlan Murdoch, chief executive of Fox, made the announcement on the company’s earnings call on Tuesday. The play-by-play announcer Kevin Burkhardt will be Brady’s partner.
“It will be a stellar and exciting television career,” Murdoch said, “but that’s up to him to make that choice when he sees fit.”
Brady tweeted that he was excited but had “a lot of unfinished business on the field with the Buccaneers.”
After 20 seasons and six Super Bowl wins with the New England Patriots, Brady joined the Buccaneers for the 2020 season and promptly won another Super Bowl.
Even last season at age 44, he led the league in passing yards, touchdowns and pass completions. While he once said he hoped to play until age 45, now that time has come he has been more vague about how long he might keep going.
Brady did announce his retirement after last season, but the decision didn’t take. He decided to come back a little more than a month later. “These past two months I’ve realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands,” Brady wrote.
When he finally decides that his place is no longer on the field, it is the broadcast booth, not the stands, that will beckon.
Players, and especially quarterbacks, have been courted for decades to transition to the broadcast booth at the end of their playing careers. But the competition to land the next star broadcaster has heated up to the point that some specially coveted players now sign television contracts before they are done playing.
Drew Brees, the former New Orleans Saints quarterback, signed a contract with NBC before his career over, while former Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen concurrently announced his retirement and his new job at Fox last year.
Because Fox and CBS televise about 13 games combined each NFL Sunday, each network has several different announcing crews to cover numerous games happening concurrently in different cities.
Once upon a time former players had to at least feign at learning the new job – former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman spent a year on Fox’s No. 2 broadcast team in 2001 before being elevated to the lead team for the last two decades.
But lately, former players have been immediately plugged into top broadcast teams, with mixed results. Tony Romo immediately partnered with Jim Nantz on CBS’s top broadcast in 2017 and was a revelation with his play predicting abilities. ESPN had far less success with former Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, who returned to playing in the NFL after a much-criticized year in the “Monday Night Football” booth.
Whenever Brady does join Fox, it will complete a wild round of talent poaching and contract renegotiations that has seen much turnover in many of the broadcast booths familiar to NFL fans.
After several years of cycling through uninspiring broadcast teams for “Monday Night Football,” ESPN finally spent big this year to lure both Joe Buck and Aikman away from Fox, where they had called games for 20 years. Burkhardt will replace Buck on Fox’s top broadcast, but they haven’t yet announced who will join him and keep the seat warm until Brady retires.
Amazon, which expanded the number of games it will broadcast under the new NFL television agreement signed last year, poached Al Michaels from NBC and got ESPN to allow college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit to join the booth while keeping his ESPN job. Mike Tirico will take over for Michaels in calling play-by-play for NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”
CBS, whose decision to replace the long-serving Phil Simms with the just-retired Romo in 2017 was surprising at the time, now has the most stable broadcast booth in the NFL