What do Chris Cooley, Jeff Saturday, Dominique Foxworth, Reggie Bush, and Chad Ochocinco have in common besides playing football? All made the recent Sports Business Journal list of players and coaches who they believe will transition well to television personalities. It's an interesting list and I'm in agreement with the majority of it including a big endorsement of their selection of Drew Brees.
Historically, there are two positions that funnel folks to high profile broadcasting jobs at a very impressive hit rate. The first being recently unemployed coaches (Mangini, Billick, Dungy, Jimmy Johnson, Gruden, etc). The other resume builder is being a NFL quarterback, and in particular a Super Bowl winning Quarterback. The list there would include Aikman, Young, Dilfer (yes he counts..... but it could have been you Tony Banks), Bradshaw, Simms, Theismann, Warner, and Bob Griese. Joe Montana doesn't have an impressive TV resume, but two quarterbacks he beat in the Super Bowl do in Marino and Esiason.
Looking to the future I recently put some thought into which of the Big 3 quarterbacks (Brees, Manning, and Brady... Rodgers is still way too young to consider for TV), I thought would make the best television personality.
My first take was that Manning would probably be on television in some capacity. He does well to poke fun of his robo-QB image and can be funny, but in fluid conversation I don't know if he's someone that will enthrall an audience. Perhaps he'd be too similar to Phil Simms. We've seen how that has turned out.
Brady is a guy who, although charming at times and with a good understanding of the game, doesn't strike me as the type of guy who wants a job in television. It's just a rigorous industry. While you're not jackhammering concrete all day, I just don't see Brady as a guy who wants to punch a clock, especially considering Gisele is at home and is rumored to cook and love chocolate. I can't envision Brady getting really serious talking about football with a bunch of big personalities or laughing it up on pregame shows.
Brees was my pick, but when I polled some friends the common reaction was "I haven't really heard him talk much."
It's a valid point as he seems to get a lot less media hype than Brady, Manning, and now Tebow. With that in mind, here is a nice clip of Brees speaking in the post game conference after their Wild Card win versus the Lions that is a good look at what he could bring to a studio environment or broadcast booth...
SBJ's quote on Brees was, "He has that air of dignity and calmness about him — sort of a Merlin Olsen-type who is more concerned about the game than cracking jokes and hamming it up. Of course, to match Olsen, he’d need a modern-day Dick Enberg as his partner, and that’s tough to find."
In my eyes, Brees comes off as a guy that knows the game well and tells good stories while not making me pull my hair out. Another big plus with Brees is that he seems to be a guy that not a lot of folks seem to have any type of grudge with and is popular with the hardcore and casual fans.
This past weekend Larry Fitzgerald and Donovan McNabb were on NFL Network looking to plant the seed that they were good fits at a network after their playing careers. Darren Sharper has made the rounds too. The truth is there are a lot of former players on television now that probably shouldn't be. Who gets tapped for a job depends on a lot of factors and sometimes is not dependent on how good they actually are for television. (I caught a whiff of Deion Sanders on TV this weekend and MAN I want those five minutes back.)
Brees isn't retiring anytime soon, he's only 33. But he seems like a layup in terms of a good hiring decision when the day comes (and if he even wants a job in television). He'd at a very least be a nice upgrade for many of the high profile roles at the networks. And if you're wondering, I'm not a Saints fan, a Purdue graduate, and didn't have Drew Brees on my fantasy team this year. In fact, he murdered my team in my championship game on Monday Night against the Falcons when I thought victory was in hand. But I'm not one to hold a grudge.
We want to know what NFL players you'd like to see on television and in what capacity. Is Drew Brees a top pick for you and what are your thoughts on which of the Big 3 QB's you'd like to see on television?