Tom Brady announced his retirement a few months ago. Then he unretired and confirmed he will return as QB1 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this upcoming season. Now it’s reported that when he eventually retires for good, he’ll head to the broadcasting booth. FOX Sports has apparently reached a monster $375 million deal with him over ten years although the network is saying that some of the details aren’t “accurate”. Still, FOX Sports is Murdoch. The NY Post, which broke the story, is also Murdoch. So I don’t know what the disconnect here is with their information but even if the dollar figure might be off by a million or two, the point here is that he’ll be calling games and an ambassador for the network.
Former players often join broadcasting teams, not just in football but in all sports. Tom Brady is considered by many to be the greatest quarterback of all time, I get why he’d have value as an analyst. But…will he be a good analyst? Just because he’s amazing at his job as a player, does that mean he’ll be an amazing broadcaster? And live broadcasting at that.
Tom Brady is obviously one of the most skilled live performers of all time in his sport. A quarterback has to immediately read what’s coming at them and make split second decisions, rely on their training and preparation and muscle memory to get them through the play – and he does this better than practically everyone. You would assume, then, that he could transfer this ability to the microphone, using his knowledge of the game to point out to the viewer what’s happening and how he specifically sees it unfolding through his expertise and experience.
Live play on the football field is not the same as live play in the broadcasting booth. I think we’ve all seen professional athletes seize up in discomfort as soon as they’re put in positions off the field or the court or the ice or the track. Because it’s your mouth muscles and your face muscles that are activated. Tom Brady has never talked for a living. And when he does talk, I mean, sorry but he’s not exactly the most dynamic public speaker. He’s actually, at least to me, pretty dull. Television is entertainment. Sports on television is entertainment. Tom Brady has always been an athlete entertainer, not a broadcaster entertainer.
That said, there are athletes who’ve been great transitioning into broadcasting. Tony Romo, for example, is solid. Here’s a supercut of how much personality he brings to the job. Troy Aikman is also very good. Chris Webber too on the NBA side. And if we’re talking personality, I always enjoy Shaq and Charles Barkley. But Tom Brady?
To mix sports analogies, I don’t think it’s necessarily a slamdunk that’s he’s going to be a hit in the booth just because he’s the GOAT.
But I am interested in what kind of training and rehearsal he’ll put into it. Because we can definitely presume that as soon as he’s done playing, he’ll apply that preparation and focus to being a broadcaster. And I wonder if that feedback will be delivered to him to help him develop his broadcasting style. I’m not just saying it because I do it professionally – broadcasting is more than just describing what you’re seeing. You need to bring some sizzle to the job. What does Brady’s broadcasting sizzle look and sound like? Is it even there?