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Brady's massive Fox deal called surprising given his off-field portfolio

Tom Brady's reported 10-year, $375M deal with Fox following his retirement marks the latest in the "recent rapid escalation of salaries for high-profile NFL analysts," but it is still "somewhat of a surprise that Brady has decided to add broadcasting to his portfolio of off-the-field interests," according to Chad Finn of the BOSTON GLOBE. Landing Brady as an analyst has "long been the Holy Grail for the NFL’s broadcast rights partners." While his appeal to networks as an analyst is "obvious given his stature and image," he has "never given a public indication that it was something that interested him." Broadcasters "generally don’t have much if any impact on ratings," but big names do "give networks a coveted big-event feel for their games." Brady will be an "enormous draw to Fox’s broadcasts when he begins," primarily due to the "curiosity factor regarding how the most accomplished and arguably the highest-profile NFL player of all time will fare" (BOSTON GLOBE, 5/11).

FOX MAKES A BIG SPLASH: In N.Y., Andrew Marchand writes Fox "surely made the NFL happy" by bringing in Brady. The league in recent years completed deals with Fox, ESPN, CBS, NBC and Amazon for $110B that will "extend into the 2030s." The pressure of having the NFL, which accounted for 75 of the top-100 rated shows on television last year, is "what is driving the prices of the announcers up." Fox has "always prided themselves on having the biggest names," including HOFers like Troy Aikman, Michael Strahan and Terry Bradshaw. They also have "been willing to be patient" (N.Y. POST, 5/11). The Ringer's Bryan Curtis noted Fox “hadn’t won a press release in a while" following the departure of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to ESPN. The net may have been thinking, "We’ve got to do something.” The Ringer's David Shoemaker said, “In a time of contract bidding wars and broadcasting uncertainty, Fox is determined that the most important thing is to project confidence and to assure everyone that no matter what your feelings are with Greg Olsen as your top color guy there is a more dynamic future that awaits you" ("The Press Box," THERINGER.com, 5/10).

A STUNNING, BOLD MOVE: THE ATHLETIC's Richard Deitsch wrote Brady joining Fox is a "stunning move" -- not so much because he may want to be involved in broadcasting, but due to Brady's commitment to Fox "for a full season of games that includes the grind of travel and everything else that comes with that job." It is a "bold move for Fox," but it comes with "something that can’t be duplicated: They just hired the most famous football player on planet Earth and the tune-in factor early will be massive." Fox management has "been hedging naming Greg Olsen as its No. 1 analyst" because they have "been hoping to land a bigger name" in the top chair next to Kevin Burkhardt (THEATHLETIC.com, 5/10). SI.com's Jimmy Traina wrote Fox will have not only the "greatest quarterback of all time calling its games," but also someone "who is a celebrity just as much as he is a football player on the broadcasts." Brady has "a lot of appeal to the fringe fan and even people who don’t care about football." Traina: "Personally, I don’t see how Brady isn’t anything but a smash success in this role." Ever since Brady left the Patriots, he has "shown us that he has a lot of personality." Brady is "funny, charming and obviously knows football as well as anyone." Traina: "I just don’t see Brady failing in the role" (SI.com, 5/10).

CAN HE RELAX AND BE HIMSELF? YAHOO SPORTS' Shalise Manza Young wrote Brady will "have to bring some Tampa Tom to the booth with him." People know he can "read the field," and viewers "like to be educated." But what made John Madden beloved was the "way he passed along that knowledge -- in a fun, endearing, everyman way." No one "thinks of Brady as an everyman," as very few viewers have "much in common with him." He can be "self-deprecating" and he is "known for being welcoming to every new player that enters the locker room." Manza Young: "Will that translate to viewers? Does Fox care?" A point of focus is if he can "translate what he knows and sees in a way that makes sense for others" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 5/10). CBSSN’s Adam Schein said, "Forget about his days as a Beli-bot in New England. If you’ve been following Brady over the last few years … Tom Brady’s been prepping for this. I think he’s going to be sensational on television” (“Time To Schein,” CBSSN, 5/10). ESPN’s David Dennis Jr.: “Nobody’s giving Tom Brady this money to do X’s and O’s and break down zone coverage. People are fascinated by Tom Brady and they just want to hear him talk about Gisele and avocado ice cream” ("Around The Horn," ESPN, 5/10).  

AVOIDING THE PRESSURE: SI.com's Conor Orr wrote once most athletes hit the booth, their "corporate life of titanium-member travel and insider access hinders their ability to be open and honest to the millions of people watching a game." With Brady, there is an "even greater concern" that he will be "just another banal voice howling into the game-day void because it will waste an incredible opportunity." What would make Brady "truly worth the hype and the adulation as a broadcaster" is if he is "willing to do what he did as a player and avoid the pressure to conform" (SI.com, 5/10).

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