Tom Brady will join Fox Sports as its top NFL analyst when his football career is over.
Whenever that is.
Brady, the seemingly timeless superstar quarterback, intends to suit up for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next season at age 45. But he will eventually retire, presumably, and when he does, Fox’s job will be waiting for him.
Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch made the announcement on the company’s earnings call Tuesday. Play-by-play announcer Kevin Burkhardt will be Brady’s partner.
“It’s going to be a stellar and exciting television run,” Murdoch said, “but it’s up to him to make that decision 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 quickly won another Super Bowl.
Even last season at age 44, he led the league in passing yards, touchdowns and completions. While he once said he expected to play until age 45, now that that time has come, he has been more vague about how long he could continue.
Brady announced his retirement after last season, but the decision was not made. He decided to come back a little over a month later. “These last two months I have realized that my place is still on the field and not in the stands,” Brady wrote.
When he finally decides his place is no longer on the field, it will be the broadcast booth, not the stands, that will be calling him.
Players, and especially quarterbacks, have been courted for decades to transition into the broadcast booth at the end of their playing careers. But the competition for the next star broadcaster has heated up to the point that some especially coveted players are now signing television contracts before they are done playing.
Former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees signed a contract with NBC before his career ended, while former Carolina Panthers tight end Greg Olsen simultaneously announced his retirement and his new job at Fox. last year.
Because Fox and CBS televise about 13 NFL games combined each Sunday, each network has several different broadcast teams to cover numerous games happening simultaneously in different cities.
Once upon a time former players had to at least pretend they learned the new job: Former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman spent a year on Fox’s No. 2 broadcast team in 2001 before being promoted to leading team for the past two decades.
But lately, former players have immediately connected to top streaming teams, with mixed results. Tony Romo immediately teamed up with Jim Nantz on the main CBS telecast in 2017 and was a revelation with his play-predicting skills. ESPN had much less success with former Cowboys tight end Jason Witten, who returned to play in the NFL after a much-criticized year in the “Monday Night Football” booth.
Every time Brady joins Fox, he will complete a wild round of talent poaching and contract renegotiations that has seen heavy 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 luring Joe Buck and Aikman away from Fox, where they had called games for 20 years. Burkhardt will replace Buck on the main Fox telecast, but they have yet to announce 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 deal signed last year, took Al Michaels from NBC and got ESPN to allow college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit to join the booth. while keeping his job at ESPN. Mike Tirico will replace Michaels on the play-by-play narration of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.”
CBS, whose decision to replace veteran Phil Simms with the recently retired Romo in 2017 was surprising at the time, now has the most stable broadcast booth in the NFL.