By:
May 11, 2022

I’m still not 100% sure this is ever going to happen. But news broke Tuesday that Tom Brady — the GOAT, the undisputed greatest quarterback in the history of football, the seven-time Super Bowl champion — will become a broadcaster when his playing days are over.

First, we don’t know when his playing days will be over. Brady is 44 going on 24. He seems to be aging in reverse. He’s set to suit up next season, when he will be 45, for the Tampa Bay Bucs. It probably will be his last season, but he has already come out of retirement once and, knowing Brady’s obsessive commitment to health and fitness and competition, he’s liable to play another five years.

But on a company earnings call Tuesday, Fox Corporation’s Lachlan Murdoch said Brady will join Fox Sports as the network’s lead NFL analyst whenever Brady hangs it up. Murdoch said, “Over the course of this long-term agreement, Tom will not only call our biggest NFL games with Kevin Burkhardt, but will also serve as an ambassador for us, particularly with respect to client and promotional initiatives.”

Fox Sports tweeted out the news Tuesday, but then Brady retweeted it to remind folks he isn’t done playing quite yet. Brady wrote, “Excited, but a lot of unfinished business on the field with the @Buccaneers.”

Is this really going to happen, even down the road? Brady doesn’t seem like the broadcasting type. Yes, he’s smart and charismatic and certainly knows the game. Even while with the buttoned-down New England Patriots, Brady showed a little of his personality with guest stints on shows such as “Family Guy,” “The Simpsons” and “Entourage,” and a memorable — and somewhat racy — cameo in the movie “Ted 2.” Since joining the Bucs prior to the 2020 NFL season, Brady has shown even more of his personality, including producing and appearing in the documentary TV series about his career called “Man in the Arena.”

Still, Brady as an NFL broadcaster? Why would he do that?

Well, reportedly, he has 375 million reasons why. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchant reports that Fox Sports is offering Brady a 10-year contract worth $375 million. Brady’s average annual salary would more than double the annual salaries of the current highest-paid NFL game analysts — Tony Romo of CBS and Troy Aikman, who just left Fox to sign with ESPN. Romo and Aikman are paid in the neighborhood of $18 million a year.

So, yeah, I guess you can see why Brady would be interested.

For the record, Fox Corporate spokesman Brian Nick told Marchant, “What has been reported isn’t an accurate description of the deal and we have not released details beyond what was disclosed on our quarterly earnings call.” Nick didn’t say which part isn’t accurate, but Marchant is a reliable reporter.

As far as Brady and broadcasting — will Brady be any good at it? Who knows? Romo stepped off the field and into the booth and was immediately sensational. Then again, former NFL quarterback Drew Brees retired and went into broadcasting and has been mediocre at best in his limited time calling games.

You would assume Brady’s work ethic and quest for perfection on the football field would carry over into broadcasting. As long as he isn’t shy about criticizing anyone, his knowledge of the game should make him a good announcer.

But if you’re paying him nearly $38 million a year, doesn’t he have to be more than good?

That raises another question, something that has come up quite often as networks continue to hand out monster contracts in the NFL broadcasting arms race: Can announcers really make a difference in getting people to watch games?

If you’re an NFL fan, aren’t you going to watch no matter who the announcers are? Does anyone ever tune in just because a certain announcer is calling the game?

Boston Globe sports media (and general sports) columnist Chad Finn recently wrote, “Broadcasters don’t affect whether we watch NFL games. Broadcasters only affect the volume at which we listen to them. That’s my working theory, anyway, after more than a decade of covering sports media and many more decades … as one of millions upon millions of avid NFL enjoyers in the United States.”

Finn wrote that it’s “perplexing” why networks would throw that kind of money at broadcasters who, at the end of the day, really don’t move the needle. He added, “I mean, I get the calculations of why they’re doing it: They have the cash to burn, and they want the early buzz that comes with a marquee name.”

It’s true: Networks clearly have the money and, in this case, there is no bigger marquee name than Brady — a marquee name that everyone would want and many might have assumed wasn’t seriously interested in broadcasting. Fox getting him is quite the coup.

In March, The Ringer’s Bryan Curtis wrote, “If the announcer empowerment era is the product of a desperate network, it’s also the product of more networks — or more media companies.”

Then Curtis reminded readers of an old quote from the late John Madden, who said, “If you got one person who wants you, you get a job. If you got two people who want you, you get a great deal. And if you have three or more, you get a bonanza.”

As far as whether or not broadcasters matter, maybe they don’t get people to watch specifically to hear them, but they do enhance the broadcast. Good announcers can give an event a big-game feel. And it shows the networks’ commitment to their league partners and the viewers. It’s like the network saying, “See, we really care about this game. We care about this sport. We think it’s a big deal; so big that we’re spending a lot of money and putting our best people on it.”

Marchant wrote, “In bringing in Brady, Fox surely made the NFL happy.”

Plus, a good announcing team just makes the broadcast a more enjoyable experience for the viewer. When I see a top-notch team such as Jim Nantz and Romo or Joe Buck and Aikman, I not only know it’s a big game, but I know that the broadcast is going to make it a great viewing experience.

I don’t know if that’s worth upwards of $20 or $30 million dollars or more a year for one broadcasting team, but apparently the networks do. And, hey, it’s their money.

(File Photo by zz/John Nacion/STAR MAX/IPx)

Trump back to Twitter?

When Elon Musk recently announced his intention to buy Twitter, one of the first big questions asked was whether or not he would lift the ban on former President Donald Trump.

On Tuesday, Musk answered the question.

Speaking at the FT Live’s Future of the Car conference, Musk said, “Permanent bans should be extremely rare and really reserved for accounts that are bots, or scam, spam accounts. … I do think it was not correct to ban Donald Trump. I think that was a mistake, because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice.”

Then Musk added, “I would reverse the permanent ban. I don’t own Twitter yet. So this is not like a thing that will definitely happen, because what if I don’t own Twitter?”

But if he does end up owning Twitter, and he serves as interim CEO as expected, it appears that he would lift Trump’s ban. Trump was banned in January of 2021 after the events of Jan. 6. Twitter said it was banning Trump “due to the risk of further incitement of violence.”

Jack Dorsey was the CEO of Twitter when Trump was banned. Musk has said that Dorsey agrees with him — that there shouldn’t be permanent bans of individuals.

On Tuesday, in reaction to a question about it, Dorsey tweeted, “There are exceptions (CSE, illegal behavior, spam or network manipulation, etc), but generally permanent bans are a failure of ours and don’t work.”

He added, “it was a business decision, it shouldn’t have been. and we should always revisit our decisions and evolve as necessary. I stated in that thread and still believe that permanent bans of individuals are directionally wrong.”

Dorsey, it should be noted, stepped down as Twitter CEO in November.

Will any of this even matter? Trump has repeatedly said he has no interest in going back to Twitter and wants to stick with his social media network, Truth Social. He told CNBC’s Joe Kernen, “I like Elon Musk. I like him a lot. He’s an excellent individual. We did a lot for Twitter when I was in the White House. I was disappointed by the way I was treated by Twitter. I won’t be going back on Twitter.”

The Washington Post’s Faiz Siddiqui wrote, “Trump advisers have worried that if Trump did rejoin Twitter, he would instantly depress the value of his company’s recently launched Twitter clone, Truth Social, which he is still eager to reap financial benefits from.”

Angelo Carusone, president of Media Matters for America, put out a statement that said, in part, “We said this was coming. Elon Musk would open the floodgates of hate and disinformation on Twitter — and he’d start by letting Donald Trump back on Twitter on day one.”

Carusone added, “This isn’t about speech — this is about ideology. Whether Elon Musk is a fully red-pilled right-wing radical or just someone very interested in enabling right-wing extremists, the result is the same: he’ll use Twitter and its platform to radicalize others; he’s said as much himself.”

Media tidbits

Correction

In Tuesday’s newsletter, I wrote about The Washington Post’s stunning three-part series regarding the insurrection on Jan. 6, 2021. I wrongly wrote how many days after Jan. 6 that series was published. It was 298 days.

Hot type

A must-read in The Atlantic from Tim Alberta: “How Politics Poisoned the Evangelical Church.”

Also in The Atlantic, Lara Bazelon writes about the ACLU being involved in the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard court case in “The ACLU Has Lost Its Way.”

For New York magazine, Will Leitch with “Why athletes are ignoring Roe v. Wade.”

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at tjones@poynter.org.

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Tom Jones is Poynter’s senior media writer for Poynter.org. He was previously part of the Tampa Bay Times family during three stints over some 30…
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