- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Whenever Tom Brady actually retires, it won’t be the last that football fans see or hear of the seven-time Super Bowl champion quarterback.

Upon his retirement, Brady will join Fox Sports as its lead NFL analyst, Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch revealed during an earnings call on Tuesday morning. Brady will call NFL games as a color commentator alongside play-by-play announcer Kevin Burkhardt and moonlight as a brand ambassador for Fox Sports.

And, of course, he’s going to make a pretty penny doing it.

Brady’s deal with Fox Sports is reportedly for $375 million over 10 years, according to the New York Post. The $37.5 million annual price tag would be the largest contract in sportscasting history.

Brady is set to make more than CBS’ Tony Romo and ESPN’s Troy Aikman — the two highest-paid color commentators — combined. Romo and Aikman are both signed for $18 million per year — a yearly figure that was itself jaw-dropping when Romo first got it from CBS in 2020. 

Murdoch acknowledged the contract, but didn’t comment on the details.

“We are delighted that Tom has committed to joining the Fox team and wish him all the best during this upcoming season,” Murdoch said.

Brady, who is entering his age 45 season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, confirmed the move in a tweet. 

“Excited,” he wrote on Twitter about the news, “but a lot of unfinished business on the field with the Buccaneers.”

The news continues Brady’s unusual offseason. In February, Brady retired from the NFL, only to unretire about six weeks later. Now, he’s making plans for whenever he does retire, whether that’s after the 2022-2023 season or beyond

The NFL leader in career passing yards and touchdowns has said he wants to play until he’s 45 years old. He was the MVP runner-up last year behind Aaron Rodgers, totaling 5,316 passing yards and 43 touchdowns with Tampa Bay.

“Over the course of this long-term agreement, Tom will not only call our biggest NFL games with Kevin Burkhardt but will also serve as an ambassador for us, particularly with respect to client and promotional initiatives,” Fox Sports said in a statement. 

Brady will become the latest NFL quarterback to transition quickly to the broadcast booth after hanging ‘em up. Romo, the former Dallas Cowboys signal-caller, has been the lead NFL analyst at CBS since 2017. After earning praise from listeners in his first few seasons, Romo then got the hefty 10-year, $180 million contract from CBS.

Last year, former New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who retired after the 2020 season, was a football analyst for NBC, working both Notre Dame games and NFL contests. And, of course, who could forget about Peyton and Eli Manning? The brothers who have a combined four Super Bowl rings starred in ESPN’s “Manningcast” — an alternate broadcast to the cable network’s flagship “Monday Night Football” — last season.

While Brady won’t join the booth for at least one more year, the move continues the broadcasting carousel that has turned the industry upside down. The reason Fox Sports had an opening in the booth was that longtime Fox play-by-play announcer Joe Buck and Aikman, his color commentator, bolted for ESPN after 20 seasons with the network. 

The pair, who called more than 300 games together and six Super Bowls, will start their “Monday Night Football” careers on Sept. 12. ESPN hopes the additions can rejuvenate the weekly broadcast, as the network has regularly shuffled the booth to little success in recent years.

Buck is reportedly receiving $15.5 million per year. Fox Sports’s deal with Brady will pay him $4 more per year than ESPN is dishing out for both Buck and Aikman combined.

Al Michaels, the face of NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” for the last 16 years, is also on the move, heading to Amazon as the company’s Prime Video streaming platform prepares for its first full season with “Thursday Night Football.” Michaels will pair with Kirk Herbstreit, who will continue to also serve as ESPN’s top college football analyst. Former “Monday Night Football” play-by-play announcer Mike Tirico is stepping in for Michaels at NBC to pair with analyst Cris Collinsworth. 

• Jacob Calvin Meyer can be reached at jmeyer@washingtontimes.com.

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