Legendary football player Tom Brady will join Fox Sports as part of a multi-year deal once he ends his NFL career, lending the company a potential new boost after it lost mainstay announcers Joe Buck and Troy Aikman to ESPN.
The news was disclosed by Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch during an investor call. The executive said Brady’s arrival at Fox Sports remained uncertain, as the decision about when to walk off the playing field would be left up to the athlete. He is, however, expected to call NFL games with Kevin Burkhardt, the Fox Sports announcer whose role was recently elevated after the exit of Buck and Aikman.
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Brady “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,” Murdoch said.
The move could create some unique challenges for Fox Sports, which is slated to televise the Super Bowl in 2023. If Brady’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers make it to the Big Game, will Fox’s analysts and sportscasters be able to criticize Brady’s game play? Will they need to disclose the deal as they make their on-air pronouncements?
Whenever Brady’s hire actually commences, it represents the latest in a flurry of big talent changes for major football broadcasts. All the TV networks with NFL rights are looking to woo bigger audiences after agreeing to substantial hikes in the licensing fees they will pay the league National Football League under a new 11-year pact that keeps the bulk of professional-football telecasts under the purview of the big traditional TV broadcasters. Al Michaels is leaving his longtime perch at NBC Sports to lead Amazon’s new “Thursday Night Football” and Mike Tirico is inheriting his role as him at NBC’s “Sunday Night Football.” Fox, meanwhile, parted ways with Buck and Aikman in March after ESPN wooed them away to lead “Monday Night Football.”
Brady toyed with the idea of retirement in recent months, but just couldn’t leave the field. After the completion of the most recent NFL season, the star athlete indicated he was ready to end his career. Just 40 days later, he reversed himself, noting that he had “realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands.”
The seven-time Super Bowl champion seemed somewhat ambivalent about the new role. In a Twitter post Tuesday, Brady said he has “unfinished business on the field” with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but he was “excited” about the chance to get into the Fox booth.
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