PHOENIX — Tom Brady’s future colleagues at Fox have high hopes for him as a broadcaster, even if he plans to defer his start date until the 2024 season.
“This guy has seen more football than anybody in the league,” said retired Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, who works as a pregame analyst on “Fox NFL Sunday.” “I mean, he’s 45 years old. I had already retired nine years before I hit 45.”
When news broke in May 2022 about Brady’s 10-year, $375 million agreement with Fox, the quarterback already had to push his start date back because he was gearing up for his 23rd NFL season, having ended his initial retirement after just 40 days.
Even though Brady has decided again to call it quits — this time, he says, “for good” — he still won’t be headed to the broadcast booth just yet.
Perhaps Brady wants to keep the door open for the 2023 season, just in case he gets the itch to take the field once more. Perhaps he wants to assess his options, second-guessing whether he actually wants to become a commentator. Or perhaps he just wants to take some time to reset after an emotional year, one in which he experienced the only losing season (8-9) of his pro career, and he and Gisele Bündchen, his wife of 13 years, divorced.
Regardless of the reason, those at Fox will welcome Brady with open arms if and when he joins the crew.
“I think Tom has a lot going on,” Strahan said. “Here’s someone who not only wants to figure out what’s going on in his life, but also has the option to do it. A lot of guys don’t have the option to say, ‘Oh, I’m going to sit out a year.’ But it’s Tom Brady. You wait for a guy like that because of everything he’s done in this game and what you think he could bring to the broadcast booth.”
Former Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, now an on-air analyst with Fox, called Brady’s decision to postpone his next move “very smart.”
“Twenty-three years of football and then you’re going right into the broadcasting booth, that’s a little too much,” Gronkowski said. “That’s a lot. To see him take off until 2024 — he has a wonderful family, wonderful kids — he can spend his time how he wants to spend it. His football knowledge is always going to be there. If he takes a year off, totally away from the game, it’s totally fine. His knowledge is always going to be sharp.”
Brady’s knowledge of the game is one of the reasons Fox is excited for his potential as a commentator. According to Strahan, having Brady in the booth would give the broadcast an extra level of credibility. After all, Strahan said, “it’s freakin’ seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady.”
Charles Woodson, an analyst for “Fox NFL Kickoff,” has no doubts that Brady, a former college teammate at Michigan, will take the time to study up. To Woodson, Brady’s decision to wait until 2024 indicates he plans on taking the job seriously.
“I don’t think he’s going to attack it any other way than he attacked playing on the football field,” Woodson said. “I think he’s going to want to put on a good show for people. He’s going to want to be informative. I think he’s going to do an awful lot to get himself prepared.”
As Fox awaits Brady’s debut, retired tight end Greg Olsen will get another season as the network’s lead analyst. Olsen’s commentary alongside play-by-play announcer Kevin Burkhardt has endeared him to many.
“I’m really happy it gives us one more year of Greg,” said Curt Menefee, host of “Fox NFL Sunday.” “I’m telling you, this has nothing to do with anybody else, I think Greg has kicked [expletive] this year. People who haven’t watched all season long are going to see it at the Super Bowl. And they’re going to have another year to watch it next year.”
Olsen said he’s not thinking about how Brady’s arrival will impact him. The two have not spoken since Brady’s recent retirement.
“I knew what I had signed up for,” Olsen said. “I knew when I sat in the seat that that shadow was always going to kind of be there. My approach this year was very similar to my approach as a player. You can’t control that. You can’t control the next draft pick they bring in to take your spot. You can’t control the next rookie or, in this case, the greatest football player of all time.
“My hope was to just go out there and show that I belong, and show that I might not have some of the résumé — playing quarterback in a big market — but as far as doing this job, that I belong. That’s been my mission.”
The questions about Brady’s future will likely persist until he actually steps foot into the broadcast booth. The Fox team sounds optimistic that day will not only come, but will be the start of a great success story.
“I’ve learned so much through Tom, being his teammate,” Gronkowski said. “Just the football knowledge he has, it’s to another degree. It’s going to be really cool just to see him take his personality, take his knowledge to the game, and bring it up to the broadcast booth.”
Nicole Yang can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow her on Twitter @nicolecyang.