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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

Is Fox Already Protecting Star Hire Tom Brady?

  • Fox cut away from Brady’s humiliating loss to ‘Mr. Irrelevant’ Sunday.
  • Brady has 10-year, $375 million to become Fox’s No. 1 analyst.
Tom Brady shows frustration after a tough loss
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Fox Sports has 375 million reasons not to do anything to antagonize Tom Brady. 

On Sunday, the network may have decided that discretion was the better part of valor by cutting away from its broadcast of the San Francisco 49ers dominating 35-7 victory over Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers in favor of the Carolina Panthers-Seattle Seahawks telecast.

During the off-season, Fox signed the 45-year-old Brady to a 10-year, $375 million deal to become their No. 1 game analyst once he finally retires from the NFL. 

If the seven-time Super Bowl champion is not playing, Fox “definitely” wants Brady to be part of their TV coverage of Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12, 2023.

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Sunday’s late afternoon Bucs vs. 49ers matchup had so many intriguing story angles Fox made it “America’s Game of the Week,” and assigned their No. 1 broadcast crew of Greg Olsen, Kevin Burkhardt, and Erin Andrews to call the telecast.

The game at Levi’s Stadium was a homecoming for Brady, who grew up a 49ers fan in nearby San Mateo, Calif. The quarterback matchup featured a legendary seven-time Super Bowl champion against the 49ers’ Brock Purdy: a 22-year-old rookie who earned the “Mr. Irrelevant” tag as the last pick in the 2022 NFL Draft.

But what looked like a potential TV rating bonanza on paper turned into an embarrassingly one-sided affair as Purdy’s 49ers raced out to a 35-0 lead against the Bucs.

A struggling Brady threw two interceptions. With a little more than six minutes left in the third quarter, Fox executives had seen enough. 

The network pulled the plug on Brady vs. Purdy in much of the country, according to Ari Meirov of ProFootballFocus, in favor of Geno Smith’s Seahawks against Sam Darnold’s Panthers.

It’s not unusual for networks to cut away from blowouts in favor of more entertaining games. Earlier in the day, the network left the Philadelphia Eagles-New York Giants blowout to the close battle between the Houston Texans-Dallas Cowboys.

But Brady’s not just any player. He’s a future employee. And Fox’s potential TV superstar-in-waiting. 

That is, if he ever decides to retire. On Sunday, Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported: “all options are on the table” for the Greatest Of All Time on returning next season as a free agent. 

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