The the king of comebacks it may finally be done, but Tom Brady’s football obituary should begin with his mistake of making one comeback too many. The respected Patriots legend, mercenary-mercenary of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, announced his retirement in simple post on social networks on Wednesday morning.
Before his final season — we hope! — Brady signed a 10-year mega-contract worth 375 million dollars become a chief network analyst. Leaving the opening slot in the Fox booth open for a year, he allowed Greg Olsen to cement himself as a broadcast powerhouse, and the timing of his retirement also made things awkward for the former tight end as the heat for Super Bowl LVII grew. Suddenly Tom Brady looks like Drew Bledsoe on color commentary.
Network coverage of the A-Teams
Serving on the network’s A-Team has been a prestigious honor over the years. John Madden and Pat Summerall set the standard. Olsen and his play-by-play partner in cabin number 1, Kevin Burkhardt, replaced the former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman and Joe Buck after a couple of them chased each other for more money to be the faces of ESPN Monday Night Football.
Olsen’s insights and analysis on Fox’s No. 1 team. 1 play-by-play were a pleasant surprise for viewers, and especially for Fox. Super Bowl LVII is his breakthrough moment, though. As a veteran tight end in the NFL, Olsen was consistently overlooked. Wide receivers and quarterbacks always stole the spotlight from the two-time All-Pro, but as a sportscaster, Olsen was finally the leading man. And he was killing him.
Meanwhile, Tony Romo is dragging his feet
During Championship weekend, Olsen’s CBS colleague Tony Romo was pulled for his wet Labrador retriever energy during the Cincinnati Bengals-Kansas City Chiefs enthralling game, while the former calmly and professionally complemented the inferior product on Fox.
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Olsen knew this day was coming
However, Olsen was always aware of the $375 million meteor heading toward the Everest of his career. During an appearance on ESPN 1000’s “The Waddle and Silvy” radio show this week, Olsen said it would be “crap” for Brady to retire, but he sounded like he was in good spirits and taking everything in stride.
“We all know the reality,” Olsen said. “I know what I signed this year. My goal – and I said this before the start of the season – my goal was to try to do the best I can. Give people a fun listen. Give people maybe a slightly different perspective and insight into the game. I’m doing the best I can.”
Now on the brink of the prime of his career, Olsen awaits demotion. The timing of Brady’s announcement a week and a half before the Super Bowl is a sharp departure from his mission to avoid distraction before the Big Game. This time he went in the opposite direction. Is it too late for Brady to step in and replace Olsen or actively participate in Super Bowl coverage in some capacity? Maybe on a pregame show with James Brown, Howie Long, Jimmy Johnson, Michael Strahan and Terry Bradshaw? (TMZ reported that Brady is not in the Big Game Network’s plans.)
Soon, Fox’s pregame crew will be devouring the entire country, but at least Brady is familiar with both teams. Brady’s Bucs eliminated Jalen Hurts’ Eagles in the 2022 Wild Card round and battled Patrick Mahomes’ Kansas City Chiefs in Week 4. Olsen’s job is likely safe for two more weeks, but the quarterback controversy is on the horizon. Fox has too much invested in Brady to be benched or tutored on the B-team. However, there is also the real possibility that his football celebrity may not carry over to broadcasting.
A choice to be made
The conventional thinking is that Fox will have to choose between the excellence of the low-key Olsen and the lucrative money they pumped into Tom Brady — but there’s another option. Make the duo Olsen-Burkhardt a trio. This has already been done successfully. Dick Enberg’s booth with Phil Simms and Paul Maguire is often considered one of the great A-teams in broadcasting. Maguire eventually formed a new trio with Mike Patrick and Joe Theismann. Before Aikman and Buck became an inseparable pair, they formed a transcendent three-man booth with Cris Collinsworth. It didn’t take long, but their chemistry was undeniable. Brady to tight end in the booth just seems good. Don’t screw this up, Fox. Do the right thing for yourself and for the fans.