Tom Brady’s mega-contract with Fox Sports made headlines this year, but he’s far from the first player-turned broadcaster to come out of the league.
Tom Terrific just doesn’t seem to lose. After spending 23 seasons in the NFL and amassing a record 7 Super Bowl wins, the GOAT has been offered the lead NFL analyst position at Fox Sports for a jaw-dropping $375 million over a ten-year period.
If that sounds like a crazy amount of money, that’s because it is. In fact, that is more money than Brady has earned over his entire career playing football. Overall, it is the fourth-largest contract in sports history. Not just sports broadcasting, but sports as a whole! And he isn’t even playing the sport. He’s just talking about it!
What’s more, the deal is just sitting there, waiting for Tom to accept it upon retirement. No, not that retirement. His actual retirement, which many believe will come at the end of the 2022 season.
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The deal will see Brady paid over $37 million per year for providing color commentary and analysis from the Fox Sports broadcast booth. That number is more than his current yearly pay from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and it doesn’t require getting hit by massive linebackers. A pretty good deal for a guy who is nearing his 45th birthday.
When, exactly, Brady will accept the contract and move on from the on-field part of football remains to be seen. By all metrics, Touchdown Tommy could play at a high level for another five years, but Fox Sports is likely banking on him to hang up the cleats after his one-year deal with the Bucs is up. The company recently lost its dynamic broadcasting duo, Troy Aikman and Joe Buck, to ESPN as the network’s new Monday Night Football team.
Speaking of Aikman, let’s look at some other players to join the broadcasting booth and how they’ve faired.
The Manning Brothers
It’s only fitting that Brady would sign a contract shortly after his biggest rival signed on with ESPN. Officially dubbed “Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli and affectionately called the “Manningcast”, the show sees brothers and football legends Peyton and Eli Manning calling ten games a season for ESPN2’s alternative MNF stream.
Interested viewers can easily switch over to the broadcast that centers around the two brothers covering the game virtually from their respective homes; their faces in a side panel the whole time along with drop-ins from guest commentators ranging from celebrities to current players.
The stream is an interesting take on the current model of hiring a big-name athlete to provide color commentary. Instead, the brothers have full control over the broadcast which allows for a more relaxed environment. It feels more like two brothers talking about the sport they love, rather than an awkward back-and-forth between former player and seasoned broadcaster. The formula sets it apart from other networks and has been a success and has enjoyed a steady stream of die-hard fans.
Originally a three-year deal with the brother’s “Omaha Productions”, ESPN recently agreed to add another year to the contract that will keep them on the air through the 2024 season.
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One of the few players to statistically be better than Brady when he left the game in 2021, Drew Brees drew headlines for, similar to Brady, accepting a contract contingent on his retirement. Ahead of his final year in the league, NBC agreed to a multi-million dollar a year contract with the future Hall-of-Fame QB. Details of the amount he would be paid were not released.
Brees and his co-host, Mike Tirico, were thought to be the heir-apparent to the legendary partnership of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth now that Michaels has decided to depart the network to head to Amazon’s TNF coverage. But after just one year in the booth, it seems like that will not be the case.
Brees dealt with criticism across the board from his very first week and didn’t seem to be enjoying his time, time he was splitting between covering Notre Dame games on Saturday and NFL games on Sunday. According to reports, Brees was feeling burnt-out and has apparently decided to take a break from the booth. The QB announced that he will be spending more time with his family and reconsidering his next moves.
Tony Romo is arguably the person that Brady will look to emulate when he debuts on Fox. Romo, who ended his career in Dallas in 2017, joined the CBS team as the lead color commentator that fall. His analysis is unlike any other and his knack for predicting plays landed him the nickname “Romostradamus” after the French astrologer and fortune-teller. In fact, his predictions were so accurate, that he was asked to hold back on them because he was spoiling the excitement.
His popularity earned him a monster 10-year contract with CBS that sees him earning $17.5 million per season, a contract that was the highest broadcaster salary in history before Brady’s came along. Romo’s quick transition from play-caller to broadcaster may have looked easy, but Romo admitted that it was anything but. The QB approached the job like he did the game of football, spending time practicing and perfecting before his big debut.
If there is anyone who knows about the importance of practicing, it is Tom Brady. The champ has never entered into any endeavor half-heartedly and will likely be calling Romo before his premier to pick his brain about the process so he can debut in a similar fashion.
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The aforementioned QBs will be lucky to have a broadcasting career as long and as successful as Troy Aikman. Another famous QB for America’s Team, the Dallas Cowboys, Troy Aikman has been serving as the color commentator alongside Joe Buck for two decades. As mentioned up top, the duo has finally left the network and are headed to ESPN to cover the main Monday Night Football broadcast which airs against the Manningcast. The deal is reported to last five years and be worth $92.5 million.
Aikman left the NFL after 12 years and three Super Bowl wins with the Cowboys and immediately went into the booth at the start of the 2001-2002 NFL season. After a successful first season as an analyst, Aikman was moved into the booth with Joe Buck where he has remained since. Together, Aikman and Buck have called over 300 regular and post-season games and look to add to that number over the next few years at ESPN.
Brady looks to fill the hole left by Aikman on Fox’s broadcasts, but it would be surprising if he is able to stay around as long as the former Cowboys’ QB. After all, when Aikman was 45, the age Brady will likely be when he retires, he had already been calling games for 11 years! It seems unlikely that Brady would sign on for another ten years when he is Aikman’s age now (55), but money has a way of convincing people to hang around…
Rounding out our list of players turned broadcasters is Cris Collinsworth. The former Bengals wide receiver has been a part of the NBC family since 1990, a job he took only two years after his retirement.
A few years later, in 1996, Collinsworth joined the NFL pregame show before heading to Fox in 1998 after NBC lost broadcasting rights to CBS.
It wasn’t until the indomitable John Madden retired in 2009 that Collinsworth made the transition to full-time color commentator alongside Al Michaels for NBC’s Sunday Night Football. He has remained in the role for 13 seasons and will enter his 14th come September 2022, though he will be without his long-time partner as Michaels has agreed to a new contract with Amazon. Collinsworth will now be paired up with Mike Tirico for what will likely be the remainder of his career.
Collinsworth’s enthusiasm and game knowledge have made him a fan favorite, even when it seems like he’s rooting against your squad, something Brady will have to navigate from the jump.
With many examples set for him to follow, Tom Terrific’s journey from ball player to Tom Brady FOX Sports broadcaster should prove to be easy, and will certainly be a welcome one for those who have had to play him for the past several decades…