Kurt Warner on Tom Brady’s broadcasting career: You can’t be a nice guy and be good in this business
Tom Brady, if you haven’t heard, will become the No. 1 analyst at Fox after he retires from playing. Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times has spoken to multiple quarterbacks who have been there and done that.
Some interesting quotes came from Hall of Famer Kurt Warner, who has done limited booth work on TV and who has spent most of his time as a studio analyst.
“That’s one of the challenges as you get into television,” Warner told Farmer. “What am I going to be as an analyst? One of the hardest things is, when you’re a guy like Tom Brady that everybody likes and you want to be liked by people, and you have to figure out how to truly analyze and be critical of what’s going on but not be critical of people.
“Everybody’s afraid of, I don’t want to offend anybody, but I also want to do my job and I want to do it really well. It’s something that I’ve struggled with, because I don’t feel as if I ever attack anybody and say, ‘This person’s terrible.’ But there are times when you go, ‘This isn’t very good. They should do this or that.’”
The problem is that, for the people on the wrong end of the verbal barbs, the line between honest criticism and personal attacks gets blurry.
“I’ve seen people take it personally,” Warner said. “You can’t just be a nice guy and really be good in this business. Now, calling games can be different than being an analyst in a studio. But at the same time, you’ve got to be able to be critical. . . . For me, I never attack a person, but I always attack a problem.”
Brady has said he rarely says what he actually thinks. In reality, however, how many of us constantly share our innermost thoughts with everyone in our lives? Whether it’s being tactful or picking battles or adopting a completely dishonest persona in order to avoid any and all entanglements from daring to tell the truth, there are reasons for human beings to maintain a very thick filter between brain and mouth.
Apart from the content, Brady also will have to learn the mechanics. He’ll be speaking in very short sound bites, stopping for the next play, studying what happens as it happens, listening to the producer via his earpiece, and trying to think of the next thing to say. And so on. And so on. Over and over and over until the game ends.
Rich Gannon, the NFL’s MVP in 2002, told Farmer that, when Gannon became a broadcaster in 2005, he didn’t understand the timing and rhythm of a broadcast. He learned on the job. Brady presumably will teach himself those things before he’s ever on the job.
Ultimately, he’ll want to be great and he’ll want to be liked. And he’ll strive to find that tiny little sweet spot that allows him to be both.