As networks break the bank for NFL analysts with contracts worth tens of millions of dollars annually, one person who isn’t fond of the trend is former ESPN president John Skipper.
Skipper, now the CEO of Meadowlark Media, joined Thursday’s “local hour” of The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz, where he was asked about the decision by Fox to give Tom Brady a $375 million broadcasting contract.
“There’s very little economic value,” Skipper said. “He’s a very, very, very expensive trophy…They do seem to have been bidding against themselves cause it is the only spot open, again, they’re buying a trophy. I think he’ll probably be okay on the game. It doesn’t really matter that much other than for pride and I guess he’ll shake advertisers’ hands.”
The unprecedented $375 million deal for Brady begins whenever the 44-year-old quarterback decides to retire from playing, again. In addition to being handed the network’s lead analyst chair, Brady will also be an ambassador for Fox. No one is exactly sure what that role entails, but apparently it’s meaningful enough to give Brady a contract worth nearly $75 million more than he’s made throughout his entire 22-year career in the NFL.
“I would have said no (to the deal),” Skipper said bluntly, pointing out that he never paid a talent more than $10 million per year during his time as president of ESPN. And despite the industry shift, Skipper still doesn’t see value in giving that kind of money to a broadcast analyst.
“I put Mike Tirico in the booth and thought he did an outstanding job,” Skipper said, referring to naming Tirico ESPN’s voice of Monday Night Football in 2006. “But I would not have paid any ex-player $15, $20 or $25 million to sit next to him.”
Meaning he’s also not in favor of ESPN’s decision to sign Troy Aikman away from Fox for $18 million annually. At least Aikman has 20 years of experience in the booth, ESPN knows what they’re getting with the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback. Fox doesn’t know what type of broadcaster Brady will be. Brady has spent his career trying to be uninteresting while speaking to the media and his on-air experience is limited to a weekly radio show that he co-hosts with Jim Gray during the NFL season.
“I don’t think that’s necessary, or a good use of $37.5 million. At about $100,000 a pop, we could have hired 370 employees for that,” Skipper griped about Brady’s contract. “For $375 million, you could have bought some live event rights, which would actually make a significant difference.”