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You gotta hand it to Fox. When they do something, they do it BIG. When the fledgling network first acquired rights to the NFL in 1993, they outbid CBS by more than $100 million a year. They also stole John Madden from CBS for $8 million, which was more than any NFL player was making at the time.
They did this because Rupert Murdoch knew the NFL was key to the entire network’s legitimacy. The gambit paid off in spades. Since acquiring the rights to the NFL, Fox has routinely stacked its broadcast booths and pregame show sets with Hall of Famers. So when Troy Aikman and lead voice Joe Buck bolted for ESPN and a combined $33.5 million a year, history would tell you Fox wouldn’t sit back.
And boy did they ever NOT sit back. As first reported by the NY Post, Fox acquired Tom Brady as their lead NFL game analyst for $375 million over 10 years. That’s over $37 million per year, which is $4 million more than what ESPN is paying Troy Aikman and Joe Buck combined.
Since that report, Fox corporate spokesman Brian Nick said, “What has been reported isn’t an accurate description of the deal and we have not released details beyond what was disclosed on our quarterly earnings call.”
Whatever the finer details of the contract may or may not entail, Tom Brady is getting PAID. And Fox got their man… AGAIN. It’s like it’s 1993 all over again.
Regardless of how you may think Brady will perform as a game analyst, one thing is for sure. He is Tom freaking Brady and everyone has an opinion on Tom Brady. And everyone will watch Tom Brady. And if his post-Patriots social media content is any indicator, he will entertain and inform those who watch.
Is Tom Brady worth over $37 million a year as a broadcaster? I don’t know. Is anyone? But I know that’s what it took to get Tom Brady to Fox, and that’s ultimately all Fox wanted. In 2021, 75 of the top 100 shows were NFL games, so if there’s ever a product to “over spend” on, it’s the NFL.
Also, what a power move by Brady. He pulled off the ultimate “transfer portal re-negotiation.” We are seeing college players enter the transfer portal to see how much they can get from other schools as well as their current school and electing to stay or transfer based on that open market flirtation. Brady hastily announced a retirement that lasted all of 41 days and was able to get exactly what he wanted out of Tampa Bay AND negotiate a $375 million post-playing career contract. That’s a GOAT move if I’ve ever seen one.
With the Brady to Fox news making headlines last week, I started thinking about other dream sports broadcasting scenarios that I would love to see become reality. I settled on three:
Michael Jordan on Inside the NBA
Inside the NBA is already the gold standard of sports studio shows. Charles Barkley is one of the very few truly fearless sports media personalities on the planet. So while I’m slightly hesitant to mess with chemistry that already works, allow me to daydream about the gambling stories that could be shared between Jordan and Barkley.
The huge caveat of this move is whether Jordan would be as genuine and honest as Barkley, and we all know that’s a big IF because David Falk and Nike carefully crafted the Jordan image years ago and Jordan rarely strays publicly from that image. After all, “Republicans buy sneakers too” and Jordan has marketing revenue to protect.
But “The Last Dance” gave America a sneak peek at a raw, unfiltered Jordan, and they loved it. The show was also a one-man meme creation factory. Now imagine Jordan arguing with Barkley about LeBron James’ value to a team and Jordan ripping Barkley for joining a super team himself (’97 Rockets), and Barkley comes back at Jordan claiming the “food poisoning game” was actually the “hangover game.” I’m not sure that Jordan would ever be able to take himself less seriously and get over things said on a show like Inside the NBA, but if he could do so, sign me up in a heartbeat.
Peyton Manning on Fox NFL Sunday
Fox already has Brady. Why not snag the guy most closely associated with Brady over the course of their careers? And unlike Jordan, we know Peyton Manning has no problem being the butt of a good joke. Fox was on the cutting edge of creating a pregame show that mixes laughter with analysis, so the funniest man in pro sports would fit right in with Terry Bradshaw, Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson and Michael Strahan as weekly analysts. I would also love to see a weekly LIVE check-in with Tom Brady at the Fox Game of the Week that features Manning and Brady exchanging one-liners. It would also be a coup for Fox to take Manning from ESPN after ESPN hired away Joe Buck and Troy Aikman.
Fox NFL Sunday is already America’s most watched early Sunday pregame show. Adding Manning would only increase their lead over CBS and ESPN while remaining perfectly on brand.
Nick Saban and Mike Leach on ESPN College Gameday
College Gameday is the longest running college football kick-off show, and their viewership bears this out. It is the standard bearer for every show of its kind that has followed.
The show doesn’t want for much, but what it does need is a little bit of conflict. Or at least more contrasting styles. While I respect Lee Corso and understand his contribution to the culture of the sport, his schtick has run its course, especially when you factor in his health struggles and how they have impacted his work. Corso was also never one to truly disagree with someone or engage in meaningful debate.
Nick Saban is the perfect heir apparent for the “former coach’s chair” on the show, and he will be terrific on TV. But that’s not enough. Give me Mike Leach to pair with Saban. The quirky and often rambling Leach would be the perfect contrast to the buttoned-up CEO. They are both highly intelligent, so there would be no shortage of verbal sparring. And while we know Leach is funny, I think Saban is low-key hilarious as well.
Imagine Saban trying to explain the finer details of disguising coverages while Leach follows up with a Crimean War/Pirates of the Caribbean (long live Jack Sparrow) reference. The look on Saban’s face would be priceless. If I were ESPN, I try to make this move when both retire from coaching. Hell, what’s stopping them now? With the money being thrown around for broadcasters, we will see players and coaches lured away from the field to the booth. So go ahead and do the rest of the sport a favor and end Saban’s reign of terror by paying him big money to co-host your show. He hates NIL anyway, right?
I would love to know your thoughts and what you would add to the list. Email me: Chad.Withrow@OutKick.com
UPDATE: We have a lot of smart people who read OutKick, and that’s evidenced by the massive response I received from my last column about coaching your kid’s youth sports team. I wanted to share a couple of the highlights starting with a response from a PhD:
Item 1: Time with your kids is finite and limited. I have been acutely aware that the time I have with my children in my home is short and limited. As a result, I do whatever I can to make sure I am in their lives. Coaching enables me to be in their lives an extra 6-8 hours of week (between practices and games). Coaching allows them to see me practice what I preach when it comes to treating other people well, being patient, instructing, and not playing favorites. Coaching also gives me another way to communicate with my kids about achievement and disappointment. Coaching your kids is time well spent parenting your kids.
Item 2: For the love of the game. One of my stated goals (that I communicate to both player and parent) is that I want them to 1. Understand the game more thoroughly after I coach them and 2. I want them to love the game for a lifetime. This point ties to your comment that it is more fun to play a sport when you understand the sport. In practical terms my children now have a lifetime love of soccer. As a result we attend our local professional games (Indy Eleven (USL Championship) and Indy Eleven (USL-W League) as a family. We watch US women’s soccer games together as family. This year my oldest daughter and I earned our soccer ref licenses and now referee rec games together (see item 1).
Coaching your kids makes a connection for a lifetime to share. My oldest daughter (14) has already asked me to co-coach her kids (my grandkids… Date TBD) with her when the time comes.
I got into coaching because I realized I could at least train the basics better than I saw happening, but discovered that coaching was going to define who I was as a person and parent for a period of time. My days of coaching are numbered. I know something will be next to invest my time in. I am not eager for this season of life to end, but I am looking forward to what lies ahead!– Erick in Indiana
Well said on all fronts. I especially liked the points about clearly communicating your goals as a coach to both player AND parent. It’s also really cool that his 14-year-old daughter already wants him to coach her future children. Bravo, Erick
Anthony in Tennessee writes:
The things learned from coaching little kids are:
1. Whoever has the best snacks, wins
2. Grow up and start thinking like a kid
I am not THAT dad, but I found out quickly that I AM that other dad. I don’t play daddy-ball with my girls, I played the opposite. If they breathed wrong, they got pulled. I’d bench MY kid if YOUR kid goofed off in the game (not literally, but you get my drift.)
*insert boring stories about coaching both of my daughters’ soccer teams. Cheesy words of reflection, etc*
Two years ago, I convinced my oldest, twelve y/o at the time, to help me coach the youngest, ten y/o at the time. My oldest is really good. LOVES the game. HATES travel ball. Hates that life, that over-bearing way of spending every spare moment, all of it. She prefers playing school ball, going to camps, and now coaching. What SHE learned is what I had to learn…they’re just kids. You aren’t going to groom the next worldwide superstar. But if you do, it won’t be because you coached them like they’re going to the World Finals. It will be because you took time to teach them, to crack jokes with them, to have fun with them, and coach them without them knowing it. When I saw her struggling with the same things I struggled with early on, but then saw her eventually laughing and saying “these kids are out of control!”, and then coach them anyway, I knew she got it.
The parents thank you, the league thanks you, the kids thank you. You made a difference in a handful of kids’ life, ever so briefly. And that makes it worth it.
“Grow up and start thinking like a kid” is my favorite quote I received back from y’all. This can be so true at times. And I completely echo Anthony’s thoughts about coaching his own daughter. I’m way harder on my own daughter than the other players and go out of my way to make sure I’m not showing favoritism. Probably too far the other way, if I’m being honest. And what a great life lesson for the 12-year-old being forced to coach 10-year-olds. To steal a line from Col. Nathan Jessup in A Few Good Men, we want Anthony on that wall. We need Anthony on that wall.