This week’s episode of Tom Brady‘s Let’s Go! podcast was devoted entirely to an interview of Charles Barkley. Fairly early in the conversation, Barkley’s candor became a topic of discussion. It caused Brady to muse about his own future as an NFL broadcaster with Fox Sports.
Brady made it clear that he’ll be inclined to be critical.
“I think part of it is, you know, I had 23 seasons professionally,” Brady said. “When I watch football now, the only thing I see — you know, nine out of 10 is ‘that was a really bad play.’ As opposed to the ‘wow,’ the spectacular play that [Patrick] Mahomes made or the spectacular play that Josh Allen made.
“Now, it’s like, ‘Man, what a bad defensive play. . . . What a bad play by the quarterback.’ And naturally. because I think I have a high level of — when you play with Randy Moss, when you play with Wes Welker, when you play with [Rob] Gronkowski and [Julian] Edelman and Mike Evans, you see greatness. And there’s a very [high] standard for perfection that I want to see the game played at. Because I value the sport, I value the coordination of this incredible chess match that’s happen, the play within every play.
“And I just feel like there’s probably more Johnny Miller in me, where when I used to watch him on golf telecasts, he would — it was just scathing sometimes. ‘What, that guy choked under pressure?’ or whatever. That’s essentially how I end up seeing the game a lot now. Not that I want to be negative, but I do want to point out — and Belichick taught this to me a lot — it’s hard to win a game in the NFL, there’s more games lost in the NFL than they’re won. If you don’t screw it up, you’ve got a great chance to win. Because most people do just mess it up. If you do the basic fundamentals of what the sport is, with blocking, tackling, rushing the quarterback, blocking for the quarterback, catching the ball, throwing, kicking the ball properly, you can do really well in the sport. Proven by that Patriot system all those years.”
Brady expressed admiration for Barkley’s willingness to be authentic.
“There’s very few people who say what they feel and get away with it,” Brady told Barkley.
For Brady, a pivot to being that blunt will be a major break from his current approach. He has said that 90 percent of the things he says publicly he doesn’t mean.
Last month, Brady said this of the league at large: “I think there’s a lot of bad football from what I watch. I watch a lot of bad football. Poor quality of football. That’s what I see.”
Most fans will have a hard time stomaching Brady as a broadcaster, if he’s going to be stingy with criticism and criticize everything. He needs to be willing to give praise when it’s due, and to call out bad decisions or mental mistakes when they happen.
Above all else, he needs to realize that few of the players he sees will live up to his own personal standard. That doesn’t mean they suck. And if he comes off as saying that, directly or in so many words, his tenure in the booth could be as short as that of his boyhood idol, Joe Montana.