Tom Brady’s New Deal Perpetuates Misguided Narrative About the Value of Black Former Athletes as Broadcasters

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Image: Michael Hickey/Getty Images.

When it comes to NFL greatness, Tom Brady is in as uber-exclusive a class as there is.

He has won seven Super Bowls (six with the New England Patriots, one with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers) and was named Super Bowl MVP five times.

Brady has a trio of league MVP awards to his credit, along with being named a Pro Bowler 15 times.

The case that so many have made for him being the NFL’s G.O.A.T., is legit.

But does that make him a lock to succeed as an NFL analyst? Fox Sports thinks so.

They’re willing to bet $375 million that the work Brady put in to become a future Hall of Famer after being passed over by 198 teams in the 2000 NFL draft, will translate to greatness on the airwaves when he’s done playing.

The issue isn’t about Brady getting a massive 10-year, $375 million bag when he’s done playing.

Good for him.
You can’t hate on him for taking all that cheddar.

But in adding Brady, the not-so-subtle trickle-down effect is that it rewards a soon-to-be, former player with a higher-paying job than the one he has despite having little to no experience at the new job.

And in doing so, it reinforces the reality for so many Black former athletes who have successfully transitioned into the broadcast world, that even with a proven track record of success as a player and now a broadcaster, the value of your proven work of success pales in comparison to what a network will pay for the potential of a white former athlete with little to no experience in front of the camera.

Brady is an exceptional talent, so the idea of him securing an unprecedented contract after his playing career is over, isn’t that hard to believe.

But that doesn’t change the reality that the value placed upon the talent of Black former athletes who have shifted their talents to being in front of the camera, is out of whack with the reality of their impact and salary.

Charles Barkley was a Hall of Fame player in the NBA, and has garnered

four Emmy Awards as Outstanding Sports Personality with his on-air work with TNT.

Barkley’s annual salary is reportedly $6 million a year.

Brady may do well in the booth upon retirement, but will his impact be six times that of Barkley who is arguably at the top of the former athlete-turned-broadcaster food chain?

We have seen in recent years the proliferation of networks adding former NFL athletes to their broadcast stable, but rarely are Blacks part of the equation despite many showcasing a level of loquaciousness during their playing days that make a future in the booth a logical next step.

Former NFL tight end Martellus Bennett was one of the more quotable players during his 10-year career, showcasing the kind of back-and-forth banter that plays out well during NFL pre- and post-game shows.

He even has a top-10 Martellus Bennett quotes page.

And yet there were no on-air jobs waiting for Bennett to consider upon his retirement, a very different reality than that of his former teammates Tony Romo and Jason Witten in Dallas, and Jay Cutler in Chicago – all white – who were each offered on-air jobs shortly after retirement.

And now with Brady, another one of Bennett’s former teammates, he has an on-air job locked up and he hasn’t even retired yet.

The issue isn’t about Brady or any of Bennett’s other teammates being afforded an opportunity to be on-air.

It’s the fact that they’re given an opportunity when there are so many other Black athletes who have displayed knowledge of the game while being engaging in front of the camera, that you don’t hear a peep about when these jobs come open.

New Orleans Saints defensive end Cam Jordan should be on every network’s wish list to be in their booth upon retirement. Ditto for Richard Sherman (he’s reportedly in talks with Amazon) and Larry Fitzgerald.

They have all proven their worth by catching on as impact performers on Sundays. But will they get a chance to catch on as on-air personalities?

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