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Tom Brady Joining Fox Sports: Winners, Fallout, Analysis

Also in today's Traina Thoughts: ESPN's golf ManningCast; 'Winning Time' ratings, celebrating Chris Berman and more.
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1. Fox announced this morning that Tom Brady will become its lead NFL analyst once he actually retires from playing. The beauty of this column being called Traina Thoughts is that I can just unload all my thoughts, and I have a lot, about this big sports media news. I’ll be professional and save my victory lap for the end.

- My first thought when I heard the news was: Clearly, the theory that Fox let Troy Aikman go to ESPN so it could save money on salary is totally false. Brady’s Fox salary hasn’t been leaked yet (I’m sure Andrew Marchand will have it sooner rather than later), but you can be assured it’s massive.

UPDATE: Just as I said, Marchand had it and reported it Tuesday afternoon.

- So did Fox let Aikman go to ESPN so it could pursue Brady? According to Sports Business Journal’s John Ourand, that’s how it played out. Was Fox mad that Aikman’s representatives were in negotiations with Amazon? No one would ever admit that, but it sure sounds that way.

- The biggest winner here, obviously, is Fox. It will have the greatest quarterback of all time calling its games. What may be even more important for Fox is that it will have someone who is a celebrity just as much as he is a football player on the broadcasts. Tom Brady has a lot of appeal to the fringe fan and even people who don’t care about football. Fox said in its statement today that not only will Brady call games for the network, but he will be “an ambassador for Fox.”

- For months, I have said over and over on the SI Media Podcast that it made no sense at all that Fox would let Buck and Aikman leave after they were with Fox for so long and were thought of by many people as the best booth in the game. Something just seemed off about Fox letting both men leave for Monday Night Football. Even Aikman said he didn’t know why it happened. Now it makes sense.

- The other huge winner is Kevin Burkhardt. Just a few months ago, Burkhardt was Fox’s No. 2 play-by-play caller. But Fox let Joe Buck out of his contract a year early so he could join Aikman at ESPN and Burkhardt got elevated to the No. 1 job. And now he will eventually call those games with Tom Brady.

- On the flip side, Greg Olsen, who was part of Fox's No. 2 last season, is now stuck in that role as long as Brady wants to keep calling games for the network as its No. 1 analyst.

- Having an athlete go right from the playing field into a network’s No. 1 booth has been a mixed bag. It worked in a major way for Tony Romo and CBS. It was a disaster for ESPN and Jason Witten. It was rough for Drew Brees and NBC. But personally, I don’t see how Brady isn’t anything but a smash success in this role. I’ve written this a million times and I’ll say it again: Ever since Brady left New England and Bill Belichick, he has shown us that he has a lot of personality. He’s funny, charming and obviously knows football as well as anyone. His appearance this past season on the ManningCast was excellent. I just don’t see Brady failing in the role.

- Last but not least: If you’ve listened to the SI Media Podcast or read Traina Thoughts on a regular basis, you know I’ve pushed the Brady-to-the-booth theory ever since he fake retired.

I predicted it back in January with Joe Buck, who scoffed at me:

I wrote about it on Feb. 3.

Screen Shot 2022-05-10 at 9.27.30 AM

My point in taking the victory lap? I hope it makes you subscribe to and listen to the SI Media Podcast.

2. As I mentioned above, Joe Buck is now at ESPN. He will work his first assignment for the network next weekend when he hosts a version of the ManningCast for the PGA Championship. Buck will be joined by Michael Collins for the event and they will joined by the following people: Aikman, Josh Allen, Charles Barkley, Doris Burke, Fred Couples, Jon Hamm, Peyton and Eli Manning.

The telecast will air for four hours each day across ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN+.

3. I have no actual proof, but I'd bet a lot of money that Jerry West's lawsuit against HBO's Winning Time gave the show some much-needed publicity and led to a lot of people checking it out.

Via Variety: Winning Time's season finale drew 1.6 million viewers on Sunday. That was up 73% from the premiere episode and up 31% from the show's season average.

4. The 2022 NFL schedule continues to leak out. CBS announced today that it will air Broncos at Rams at 4:30 pm ET on Christmas Day. 

5. Inside the NBA's (and recent SI Media Podcast guest) Kenny Smith spoke with Chris Paul's mother yesterday, and she shared the ugly details about what happened between her and the Mavericks fan during Sunday's game. 

6. This week's Sports Illustrated Media Podcast features a conversation with Katie Nolan, who is part of MLB coverage on Apple TV+.

Nolan discusses how she got the job with Apple, what Apple is trying to accomplish with its broadcasts, understanding that traditional MLB fans may not get the telecast, how she prepares for each game and the time she stayed silent for several innings after reading backlash on social media.

Nolan also opens up about her time at ESPN, what she liked about working there, whether she thought ESPN knew how to use her and what she has learned about navigating the sports media business.

The podcast closes with our weekly “Traina Thoughts” segment featuring Sal Licata from WFAN radio and SNY TV in New York. This week, Jimmy and Sal read recent SI Media Podcast Apple reviews, discuss Kevin Harlan getting the top gig at Turner Sports, the NFL giving a game exclusively to ESPN+ and much more

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on AppleSpotify and Google.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Happy 67th birthday to the legendary Chris Berman.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Google. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter, Instagram and TikTok.