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Saturday, March 2, 2024

TV Networks Already Pursuing Tom Brady

  • Fox Sports could bid on Brady if he wants to do TV.
  • Brady could land the richest deal in sports broadcasting history.
Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY/Design: Alex Brooks

The feelers started going out to Tom Brady’s agents almost as soon as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ season ended with a playoff loss to the Los Angeles Rams on Jan. 23. 

Would Brady be interested in doing TV for the 2022 season? With Brady officially announcing his retirement on Tuesday, that possibility appears to be growing. The seven-time Super Bowl champion could land the richest pact in sports broadcasting history.

With No. 1 analyst Troy Aikman possibly leaving for Amazon, Fox Sports has inquired about Brady, sources told Front Office Sports. ESPN is also interested, said sources. Ditto for tech giant Amazon, which takes over “Thursday Night Football” from Fox starting with the 2022 season.

The 44-year-old Brady has dual representation. WME’s Jason Hodes handles Brady’s off-field business, including his “Man in the Arena” docuseries. Agent Don Yee has handled Brady’s on-field contracts with the Bucs and New England Patriots over his 22-year NFL career.

A Fox spokesperson said the network does not “comment on contracts or on personnel hires.” ESPN, Amazon, and WME declined to comment on Brady. 

CBS Sports’ Tony Romo currently ranks as sports media’s highest-paid announcer at $18 million per year. But Brady’s the biggest name in the NFL — if the five-time Super Bowl MVP wants to call games or analyze the league from a studio, his deal would “blow Romo’s out of the water,” predicted one source.

“Brady would be worth his weight in gold. The opening bid would be $20 million a year — and it could go as high as $25 million,” said the source. “That would be for either games or the studio. There’s no way in hell Brady would make less than Romo.”

Sports marketing expert Bob Dorfman agreed. “You’d see an all-out blitz by every company with an NFL interest to sign him. It would take 8 figures to get the GOAT to sign a multi-year deal.” 

Fox may have the most pressing need for Brady among NFL networks and tech partners. 

Aikman told FOS he could jump to Amazon’s “Thursday Night Football” coverage with Al Michaels after 20 years on Fox’s lead NFL announcer team with Joe Buck. Before Brady’s announcement, Fox was targeting former New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton as Aikman’s possible successor. Promising No. 2 analyst Greg Olsen could also take over the top job with Buck if Aikman leaves Fox.

Fox Sports headquarters and studio operations are in Los Angeles. Brady’s multi-platform production company 199 Productions (named for his selection number in the 2000 NFL Draft) is expanding its reach in entertainment.

On the other hand, CBS and NBC Sports seem comfortable with Romo and Cris Collinsworth as their No. 1 game analysts. Brady has a production deal with ESPN+. ESPN also contracted with Peyton and Eli Manning to call 10 ManningCasts during the 2022 and 2023 seasons. Could ESPN afford both Brady and the Mannings?

Eric Weinberger, former executive producer for NFL Network, could see ESPN parent Disney trying to win Brady with a multi-platform content offer involving “Monday Night Football,” movies and documentaries.

“I feel like Disney should at least try him. Throw a huge deal at him for content, then have him do MNF with a big star play-by-player,” Weinbeger said.

Legacy Media vs. Tech Giants?

If Brady does want to work in TV, Fox or ESPN could end up duking it out with either Amazon or Apple, which is reportedly bidding on the “NFL Sunday Ticket” package. Even at a cost of $25 million to $30 million per year, hiring Brady would amount to a “rounding error” for either tech giant, noted another source. 

Apple recently became the first U.S. company to hit a market cap of $3 trillion. With more than 200 million Prime members worldwide, Amazon boasts annual sales of $386 billion.

Any TV network/streamer featuring Brady would likely reap a windfall from corporate sponsors and other advertisers looking to capitalize on his new TV role. 

Julius Langkilde, president of Brady sponsor Christopher Cloos, said he’d be more likely to buy commercial time during an NFL game featuring his famous athletic endorser. The Danish eyewear firm plans to expand its Brady collection in the future.

“It’s certainly something that could be interesting to potential advertising partners,” Langkilde said.

Of course, it all depends on whether Brady wants to do TV next season — or any season. 

The father and husband has spoken about spending more quality time with his wife, Brazilian model Gisele Bündchen, and their children after devoting himself to football. 

He doesn’t need the money: Brady made more than any player in NFL history, amassing $293 million in salary and bonuses, according to Spotrac. All together, Brady made $450 million during his career.

Brady also rakes in millions annually from corporate sponsors like Under Armour, Subway, T-Mobile, and Christopher Cloos. This month, he launched his own apparel line called BRADY. He continues to expand his health and fitness company TB12. 

Much like Peyton Manning, Brady will have the opportunity to stay relevant business-wise through marketing, documentaries, and possible team ownership. 

“Brady’s making so much money as a business mogul, he may not need to do TV,” noted Dorfman. “But I expect he’ll do TV [commercials] for Under Armour, Subway, and some new sponsors playing off his family man status.”

‘Back up the Brinks truck’

Again, like his old rival Manning, Brady could end up doing NFL TV on his own terms in his own way. He could either call games or provide studio analysis on a part-time basis a la Wayne Gretzky on Turner Sports’ NHL coverage. 

Another source speculated Brady (who appeared on the ManningCast this season) could end up signing non-exclusive deals with both a legacy media company and a streamer to keep his foot in both camps. Any company that signs him will likely sweeten the pot with first-look development deals. 

Whether it’s this season or next, get ready for Brady to become the next white-whale obsession for sports TV executives, said sources.

“Back up the Brinks truck: Everybody is going to want to be in the Tom Brady business,” said a source.  “He will do whatever deal he wants. Everybody will want to play ball with him.” 

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