From Tom Jones | Poynter <[email protected]>
Subject Tom Brady retires. Next stop? The broadcast booth.
Date February 2, 2023 12:30 PM
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Brady is expected to head to the booth as the highest-paid TV analyst in the history of the game … even though he has never announced before. Email not displaying correctly?
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** Tom Brady retires. Next stop? The broadcast booth.
Tom Brady poses at the premiere of the film, “80 for Brady” on Tuesday in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

This time, it’s for real. We think.

Tom Brady, the seven-time Super Bowl champ considered by pretty much everyone to be the greatest quarterback in football history, is retiring.

Unlike last year, when he retired for 40 days only to reverse his decision and return to the game, Brady looks like he’s serious this time. In a one-minute Twitter announcement ([link removed]) released early Wednesday morning, Brady said, “I’m retiring … for good.”

So what’s next for Brady? Well, eventually Canton, Ohio, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But, before that, he is expected to head to the broadcast booth as the highest-paid TV analyst in the history of the game even though he has never announced a game before.

Last year, Fox Sports signed Brady to a 10-year, $375 million contract to call games when his playing days were over.

Well, his playing days are now over.

First things first. Fox has this year’s Super Bowl, which will be played on Feb. 12, but TMZ Sports reports ([link removed]) Brady will not be a part of the coverage. In fact, reports are that Fox was just as surprised as football observers that Brady made a retirement announcement. There’s always a chance that Brady could make an appearance on the hourslong pregame show, but do not expect him to actually call the game.

OK, so then what?

There’s no guarantee that Brady will jump into the booth next season. It’s entirely possible that Brady decides to take a year off from everything to clear his mind and rest up before jumping into the booth.

But when he does — whether it’s next season or the year after — he is expected to join Kevin Burkhardt to make up the network’s No. 1 NFL broadcast team. You don’t pay someone upwards of $37 million a year to not be on the No. 1 team.

That means Greg Olsen, who currently works on the top team and will call his first Super Bowl in less than two weeks, likely will be dropped to the No. 2 team despite earning strong reviews for his work and professionalism this year. If social media is any judge, he is well-liked by fans. It’s possible, although highly unlikely, that Fox would have a three-man booth with Burkhardt, Brady and Olsen.

Olsen, a former tight end mostly with the Chicago Bears and Carolina Panthers, has used humor to address the elephant in the room that Brady would eventually take his job. But he admitted to The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch ([link removed]) that he understands how all this works and he isn’t going to be bitter about it.

Olsen told Deitsch, “My only option right now to make a career out of this is to be good. That’s it. I didn’t play quarterback. I didn’t play for the Dallas Cowboys. I don’t have a gold jacket on. I didn’t play in New York City. The only way I can do this is if I’m good. Whether that’s good enough in the long run, I don’t know. All I can control is going out there and having fun and giving a fun broadcast.”

He added, “In regard to Tom, if he comes in and he takes it. I get it. I don’t ask anyone to feel bad for me. And I’m not going to feel bad for myself. Will I be disappointed? Would I rather sit next to Kevin for the next 20 years? Of course. I’m not going to sit here and sound stupid and be like, ‘You know, just doing this for one year was plenty.’ Like, no, screw that. I’d like to do this for 20 years. I’d like to call 10 Super Bowls. Whether that happens or not, I don’t know. I don’t control it. But the second I spend all my energy worrying about what Tom does and worrying about my job security and who’s going to be in my seat, then I’m not going to be very effective. I just don’t know how else to describe it. I’ve come to grips with it, and I’m going to make it hard as hell on them to try to replace me.”

No one should cry a river for Olsen. He was a tight end, mostly in the small market in Charlotte. Yet he still will be one of 15 or so people on the planet who gets to call professional football for a living and gets paid millions of dollars to do so. The New York Post’s Andrew Marchand reports ([link removed]) that Olsen makes $10 million annually as a lead analyst and that salary would drop to $3 million if he is dropped to the No. 2 team. That’s a big drop, but it’s still a really lucrative gig.

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** The real big question is …

Will Brady be any good at broadcasting?

Brady spent most of his legendary career in New England with the Patriots, a famously tight-lipped organization. Except for rare instances and a few cameos in TV shows such as “Family Guy” and films such as “Ted 2,” we saw a rather buttoned-down Brady. His press conferences typically said little and were full of polite smiles and cliches. He wasn’t quite robotic, but he never looked completely relaxed either. He always appeared to be a little on guard.

He started to lighten up and show a little more of his personality during his three-year stint in Tampa Bay. But now we wait to see if that will translate to him being a good analyst.

Will he be critical when necessary? Can he be funny and self-deprecating? Is he going to work at it? Will he be drawn to other business interests?

Those who know him best say his competitive streak won’t allow him to be anything less than 100% in his preparation. He knows all eyes (and ears) will be on him and he is determined not just to be good at broadcasting, but to be great.

There is also another angle that I hadn’t previously considered. Are there NFL fans who don’t like Brady because he spent that past half-century tossing around their teams like rag dolls?

Sports Illustrated’s Jimmy Traina wrote ([link removed]) , “Tom Brady is the greatest quarterback of all time, he’s won seven Super Bowls and is one of the most historic figures in sports history. Yet, people don’t want to hear him offer analysis because … he beat their favorite team a lot? Grow up.”

Traina added, “How could a football fan not want Brady’s insight about the game? How could they not want to know what he’s thinking about what a defense is giving a quarterback? How can they not want his analysis during a two-minute drill? Any rational sports fan should want the greatest player at a certain position in any sport to be in a broadcast booth simply because of the unique perspective they can provide.”

We’ll just have to wait and see if Brady is any good in the booth. No matter what, he will always have his detractors and critics. Covering sports and sports media for a long time now, I can tell you that few things are as polarizing as how fans feel about broadcasters. For every fan of Tony Romo or Dick Vitale or John McEnroe, you can find twice as many who can’t stand them.

But the good news is we are now much closer to finding out if Brady will be any good because we are much closer to Brady becoming a broadcaster. We think.

** Hot takes

It has been amusing to watch all the speculation regarding Brady over the past couple of weeks. It has been a 24-hour cycle of predictions and guesses of where Brady would play next season. Some thought San Francisco. Some thought New York. Some thought Miami. Or that he would stay in Tampa Bay.

Looking back, the only thing we know for sure is that no one knew anything.

Awful Announcing’s Andrew Bucholtz has this fun piece: “Five Tom Brady takes from the last 10 days that didn’t hold up.” ([link removed])

** And a few more thoughts on Brady
* The Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins with “For Tom Brady, the cost of greatness finally became too great.” ([link removed])
* The Tampa Bay Times’ John Romano with “Tom Brady had a career for the ages, and the rest of us had the time of our lives.” ([link removed])
* The Boston Globe’s Dan Shaughnessy with “This time, we believe him: Tom Brady is done, and the moment is right.” ([link removed])
* The New York Times’ Kurt Streeter with “Tom Brady’s Retirement Is the Best Thing for Football.” ([link removed])
* And, finally, this is really fun. The New York Times reminds us that all you have to do to cover Brady’s announcement is just update what you wrote one year ago. So that’s what Ben Shpigel, with help from Times’ designers, does inthis interactive piece ([link removed]) . I promise you’ll enjoy it.

** Closing shop

Gawker is shutting down. Again.

For the second time, the pop culture/media/satire site is suspending operations. The first came infamously in 2016 when it went bankrupt after losing a lawsuit to professional wrestler Hulk Hogan.

But in July 2021, Gawker showed up again, this time with the ownership of Bustle Digital Group, which (under the direction of CEO Bryan Goldberg) bought Gawker’s assets in an auction for $1.35 million.

The reboot lasted only 18 months. On Wednesday, Gawker editor-in-chief Leah Finnegan tweeted ([link removed]) , “Well, after an incredible 1.5 years, BDG has decided it is done with Gawker 2.0. Can't say enough about how proud I am of the site and all the brilliant people who worked to create it, and what a staggering shame this is. I had an absolute blast, and I love you.”

In a memo to staff, Goldberg said, “Gawker published a lot of brilliant pieces in these nearly two years. But in this new reality, we have to prioritize our better-monetized sites. It’s a business decision, and one that, reluctantly, must be made.”

Gawker wasn’t the only property impacted. Overall, BDG laid off 8% of its staff, or about 40 people, including eight from Gawker.

The Writers Guild of America, East said in a statement that it was “appalled” by the layoffs, and added, “This is the third round of layoffs over the last six months that have effectively led to halving the original unit from 200 workers to just above 100 workers. Today’s latest round of layoffs, and the closure of Gawker, came after more than two years of attempting to bargain a first contract with BDG, and on the heels of more recent bargaining dates being outright canceled by the Company. The decisions BDG made today come with real-world consequences for the workers who lost their livelihood.”

Nieman Lab’s Laura Hazard Owen has more Twitter reaction ([link removed]) to the news.

** In the running
Former South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, shown here last November. (AP Photo/Meg Kinnard, File)

Former South Carolina Republican Gov. Nikki Haley is going to run for president. The Post and Courier’s Schuyler Kropf broke the news ([link removed]) . Kropf wrote, “Haley famously said earlier she would not seek to challenge (former President Donald) Trump if he ran again, but her message has since shifted to say the country needs to look toward a different path.”

We’re still more than a year away from the 2024 Republican National Convention and lots could change between now and then. But with Trump running and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis one of the early favorites to get a nomination (if he decides to run), does Haley have a chance?

The Washington Post’s Michael Scherer, Josh Dawsey and Hannah Knowles indicate ([link removed]) , through their sources, that there’s a risk that by announcing so early, Haley could become a target of attacks by Trump.

The Post wrote, “There are also Republicans who maintain hope that Trump might simply lose interest in running; they note that he has not filed a personal financial disclosure report, asking for two extensions. But others view Trump as the most likely GOP nominee, pointing to the demonstrated base of support he has built within the party that others have yet to match. Speaking in New Hampshire and then South Carolina on Saturday, the former president, appearing at smaller-scale events than he typically held in past campaigns, promised a return ‘soon’ to the big rallies he is known for and insisted, ‘I’m more angry now, and I’m more committed now than I ever was.’”

A local story worth checking out is from The Greenville (South Carolina) News’ Devyani Chhetri and Bob Montgomery with “SC Republicans, analysts: It's still Donald Trump's GOP but Nikki Haley could be formidable.” ([link removed])

Also, The Washington Post’s Aaron Blake with “Nikki Haley’s 2024 prospects.” ([link removed])

** Strange conversation

Did you see that ABC late-night host Jimmy Kimmel interviewed “MyPillow guy” and rigged-election conspiracy theorist Mike Lindell? Wait, there’s more. Lindell was sitting inside one of those arcade claw machines.

I’m serious. Although the interview hardly was.

“To help him overcome his debilitating fear of machines, we have installed him inside a claw machine,” Kimmel said.

Incredibly, Lindell went along with the bit, even to the surprise of Kimmel.

Lindell said he was inside the machine because he isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19. But Kimmel said, “I did not insist that Mike be in a claw machine because he’s not vaccinated. I insisted he be in a claw machine because it’s hilarious. … This isn’t a political statement. This is just for fun.”

The Daily Beast’s Zachary Petrizzo and Matt Wilstein have more in “Jimmy Kimmel Utterly Humiliates MyPillow Guy Mike Lindell.” ([link removed])

** Media tidbits
* The Daily Beast’s Will Sommer, Kate Briquelet, Kelly Weill and Noah Kirsch with “Eliza Bleu’s Own Friends Aren’t Buying Her Trafficking Story.” ([link removed])
* The Washington Post’s Salvador Rizzo with “Former ABC News journalist charged in child porn case.” ([link removed])
* Watching “The Daily Show” correspondent Jordan Klepper talk to wingnut, diehard Trump supporters would be funny if some of their beliefs weren’t so disturbing. Here’s the latest clip ([link removed]) .
* From the Big Technology Podcast: “Brian Stelter On His CNN Exit, The Network’s Path Forward, And TV’s Future.” ([link removed])

** Hot type

Today’s “hot type” has one story. Here’s a note from The Washington Post:

Las Vegas investigative reporter Jeff German was slain outside his home on Sept. 2; a Clark County official he had investigated is charged in his death. To continue German’s work, The Washington Post teamed up with his newspaper, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, to complete one of the stories he’d planned to pursue before his killing. A folder on German’s desk contained court documents he’d started to gather about an alleged Ponzi scheme that left hundreds of victims — many of them Mormon — in its wake. Post reporter Lizzie Johnson began investigating, working with Review-Journal photographer Rachel Aston.

Here is that story: “An alleged $500 million Ponzi scheme preyed on Mormons. It ended with FBI gunfire.” ([link removed])

** More resources for journalists
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Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) .
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