A week after it was learned that Bucs quarterback Tom Brady signed a contract with FOX for well over a third of a billion dollars to call NFL games (and likely do much, much more) the deal is still making waves throughout sports media.
And a legend of sports media threw in his two cents earlier this week and thinks the FOX/Brady deal will be an epic disaster and become a modern-day New Coke debacle. And that man is the one and only Chris “Mad Dog” Russo.
Earlier this week Russo took to his SiriusXM Radio show and teed off on the Brady/FOX patch.
Some background: Russo has never been a fan of Brady the celebrity. Or Brady the person. Russo loves Brady the quarterback. Last year when the Bucs lost to the Rams in the playoffs, Russo raved about how Brady put the Bucs on his back and “fought his ass off” and nearly pulled off one of the greatest playoff comebacks of all times. At the same time Russo, a Packers fan, killed the drama queen quarterback Aaron Rodgers for being a choke artist and stated Rodgers wasn’t in Brady’s league as a clutch quarterback.
So Russo isn’t necessarily a Brady hater, though Russo has said for months he has Brady Fatigue and won’t shed a tear when he does retire. Russo, however, won’t be running for his remote to listen to Brady, the FOX NFL analyst.
“I think Brady and the $375 million contract FOX gave him, they are going to rue that day,” Russo began. “I just don’t think that Brady — first off, he doesn’t love the media. He’s not really going to go out there and be that expressive. That TV show he did is not great. I think that is a disaster.
“He doesn’t have a ton of personality that we see. Listen, I know that FOX lost [Troy] Aikman. They lost [Joe] Buck. Brady is the next big thing. I get what they are trying to do. Is Brady worth $375 million? Really? What person is going to put the TV set on to hear Brady do a ballgame? … No one is watching a football game because of the broadcaster. Even Brady. But I just think that Brady, I just don’t think Brady is going to say anything.”
Russo for months has had a hair up his tailpipe thinking Brady sold out Jim Gray who hosted that lame SiriusXM weekly show with Brady during the football season. Russo felt Brady should have broken the news of his retirement on his show with Gray rather than running to his Instagram account.
“Is [Brady] going to do the same thing for FOX who is paying him $375 million, put breaking news stories on Instagram? I mean, come on!” Russo said, getting worked up. “I thought that was a horrific — now listen: They are going to say, ‘Who are you? It’s Tom Brady. Blah, blah, blah.’ There isn’t a person in America who is going to put the TV set on, especially after the novelty wears off which will be about a quarter. There is nobody that is going to put the TV set on to hear Tom Brady, because Tom Brady is doing the game. There is not a person on the planet.
Pay him $375 million? He’s boring off the field now! Who the hell wants to hear Brady’s 30-second press conference after a Tampa loss? Is Brady going to maul a quarterback who deserves to be mauled? Or maul a team? He’s never thrown anybody under the bus! That was a horrific decision by FOX! Horrific.”
Well, Joe won’t (yet) go overboard and call the move “horrific.” If FOX didn’t have the cash the Murdochs wouldn’t have offered Brady that sort of loot. But Joe fully gets where Russo is coming from. Where is this dynamic personality and pearls of football wisdom that will draw folks in and keep them glued to his every word?
But Joe totally gets why FOX paid Brady this sort of cash. FOX is a multimedia company. They didn’t just hire Brady to work 20 weekends a year. Not for that kind of bread. And Joe is convinced there is a business angle(s) for Brady and his many tentacles that are tied in somehow with this contract.
While Russo is correct that, aside from very rare announcers (Keith Jackson, John Madden, Dick Vitale), folks do not tune in for announcers, Brady being the face of FOX NFL telecasts will help sell to advertisers. Ad buyers aren’t necessarily NFL fans and may not even be sports fans. Brady is an international celebrity. People who are not sports fans know who he is. Just his name and his brand deliver credibility and visibility.
Advertising is, in part, about recognition and visibility. Name anyone in the NFL with a higher profile than Brady? It sure as hell isn’t Kevin Burkhardt.
That’s why broadcast companies can commit so many millions of dollars to announcers. It’s about name recognition and, at the end of the day, selling. Tom Brady’s name and image are gold. And advertisers know it.
Joe can tell you for sure who is very much on board with this move by FOX. That would be Rodger Goodell and the NFL. And as Russo himself would say, “That’s all you need to know.”
Today on #GMQB – KB takes a deep dive to see if TB12 is ready for the broadcast booth.
— Good Morning Football (@gmfb) May 18, 2022