In taking his cue from Draymond Green and cementing his next career before he’s done with his current career, Tom Brady of Fox Sports has given us a brief series of questions to which we already know the answers, to wit:
Will he be insightful? Yes, probably.
Will he be frank if frankness requires criticalizing anyone? Absolutely not.
Will he be deliberately bland? Like an open-faced American cheese on white.
Will he reinvent football analysis? He may not even attempt football analysis. He might just sit there like a fit Yoda and smile through the entire game for all we know.
Will people like him? Who cares? He won’t be a person at Fox any more than he would have been at Disney, CBS, NBC, Amazon, YouTube, BeIn or Home And Garden. He’s being hired for his name because that’s all he needs to give, and so that none of the other networks can have it, or him. For that he will make a reported $25 million a year, or $5 million more than Tony Romo, who was the previous “he’s making WHAT?!” analyst.
There. That should clear it up for you. Brady will be as he has always been, because that’s the Brady brand in its totality. There will be no oblique snideness, no settling scores with Bill Belichick, no hilarious ripostes at Kevin Burkhardt’s expense, no mocking analytics or anything else. The totality of Brady is about saying of nothing and watching the world try to analyze that nothingness. He is zazen, the meditation technique of observing something and then letting your thoughts about that thing dissolve into nothingness. He is all about thinking about not thinking.
And that’s what Fox bought, and what they’re fine with him being. There were no negotiations here. They wanted his name and his face, and whatever tumbles out of his yap is very much beside the point. Even if he wanted to reinvent the ManningCast as a sidelight, by the time he actually retires the ManningCast will be yesterday’s trend.
But let’s be honest. The template for Analyst Brady isn’t Tony Romo, who now makes $5 million a year less than Brady for emoting frantically like a helium balloon with lips. The template for Analyst Brady is actually his truest compatriot at the mountaintop—Wayne Gretzky. Gretzky is part of the TNT studio crew at a paltry $3 million per year, and his next provocatively spoken thought will be his first because his job isn’t to break down Colorado’s forecheck. His job is to sit there and emanate Gretzkyhood. Anything after that he is providing out of the goodness of his heart, and is probably scaring the holy hell out of the producers.
Now Brady may decide he’d like to master guessing the next play, which is what Romo did to make his bones, but we doubt it. He might get all gabby about the wonder of that last dive play like Cris Collinsworth, but we definitely doubt that. He might make the odd swipe at Roger Goodell, but he would be unlike him to bother because gods do not bother with mere humans. If for some absurd reason he did want to scratch that particular scab and the league objected, it wouldn’t be above Fox to suggest that Goodell do the honorable thing and retire so as not to sour the Brady vibe.
Maybe that’s the come-on for Brady—I mean, above the $25 sweet. Maybe he would try to settle all the scores he has amassed in his thousand years in football, going all the way back to his high school coach Tom MacKenzie for suggesting that he had baby fat while at Junipero Serra High School. But he wouldn’t do any of those things because he would not stoop to exposing any nerve endings on such a paltry stage as television. He would satisfy his debt to Fox and earn the entire 25 scoots if all he did on game day was crochet hats for his kids.
Still, even for all that, he is showing that he is finally thinking about retiring. He no longer has a gig running the Miami Dolphins in mind, or a gig running anything he doesn’t already own. This is 20 weekends, 23 max, and every time he sits next to Burkhardt there will be a million bucks in an equipment bag next to his lunch. He only ruins it if he decides he’d like to say something too.
So he won’t. His job is to exist, and he’s pretty well accomplished that. The first time he describes a second quarter third-and-six as “a key down,” pets will die and our culture will wither. He knows. Trust us, he knows.