Tom Brady survived the roast, now comes the Fox booth

US

The blow-back Tom Brady received from his celebrity roast will be nothing compared to the heat he will take from those watching his every move on Fox Sports No. 1 NFL team.

Those who doubted whether he would make it to the booth on time can relax now that the Foxies have revealed the Hall of Fame bound quarterback will make his regular season debut Sept. 8 on the network’s Cowboys-Browns telecast.

The league decided not to give CBS a national doubleheader game in that window to maximize Fox’s audience. Typically, both networks get a national doubleheader game in week No. 1. With the national spotlight on Brady, NFL fans and the media will be dissecting every observation and replay analysis he offers. Can Brady measure up to the high bar (10 years, $375 million) Fox has set for him?

The critics, social media experts and designated detractors who want to see Brady fail on the big stage will be all over him from the second he appears on camera with play-by-play voice Kevin Burkhardt. Brady’s hair, his clothes, his broadcast game will be nitpicked week after week.

Other than Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce, Brady is the biggest star in the NFL and he doesn’t even have to put on a uniform. Broadcasters, even former stars, usually don’t move the ratings needle, but at least early on in his Fox tenure, the wave of curiosity, engulfing Brady-as-broadcaster, will help drive the ratings.

How will he get to that point?

Fox suits seem to have passed on any chance of Brady/Burkhardt rehearsing in a live game setting during the United Football League season. This is a missed opportunity for Brady, who has never broadcast a live football game. While it appears he has been in the studio working games off a monitor, that is akin to a novice golfer hitting balls into a simulator rather than on the actual course.

Do the Foxies ramp things up and have the duo rehearse privately during each of the three weekends the NFL plays exhibition games? That kind of practice would be helpful. And by the second Sunday in September Brady may well have the mechanics down.

Does Fox dare unveil Brady/Burkhardt by having them work the one preseason game that each network rights holder is entitled to broadcast in August? Nothing like a soft launch to ease into the role. But the dogs would be howling if Brady turned in an underwhelming performance. Also, prepping for two rosters filled with unknown players is not ideal.

Unlike the greatest NFL TV analyst ever, the late John Madden, Brady will not have the luxury of getting his rhythm down in the first year on the job by working a regional schedule. Much like his playing days, those watching will expect him to produce from the get-go.

Maybe in the beginning he comes out taking a minimalist, man-of-few words, approach. Or maybe, like Tony Romo, who was in a similar situation at CBS, he comes out with a gimmick, like predicting plays.

There are many roads he could take. Yet just waiting for the next chapter of his career to start won’t be easy. It could be a long summer for Tom Brady.

CRITICAL THINKING

Apparently, it’s not enough for FAN’s Norman Julius Esiason to wave Knicks pom-poms. Now, he’s “protecting” the team, and its star Jalen Brunson, from critics.

NJE took TNT’s Charles Barkley and Draymond Green to task for failing to properly genuflect to the Knickerbockers and Brunson.

“How do you not respect the way this team plays,” NJE said on the air. “You are just discrediting who they are as basketball players. … I don’t get it. There’s no reason to be critical [of Brunson].”

When last we looked Barkley and Green are paid (by TNT) for their opinions. NJE is paid for his opinions too, albeit by Audacy. Either Esiason is really living under an orange and blue cloud or simply trying to instigate a media feud with Barkley, something he could proudly list on his Gasbag resume.

SCORE, SCORE, GRIPE, GRIPE

Michael Kay’s campaign to stop analysts from “stepping” on the play-by-play person’s call is admirable — sort of. Sometimes it neglects to consider the element of spontaneity and the kind of visceral reaction an “intruding” analyst adds to the moment and the broadcast.

Kay’s latest crusade landed on Rangers radio analyst Dave Maloney. Kay, the ESPN-98.7 Gasbag and TV play-by-play voice of the Yankees on YES, accused Maloney of stepping on Sam Rosen’s radio call of Artemi Panarin’s game winning OT goal giving the Rangers a 3-0 lead over Carolina in round two of the playoffs.

Rosen was calling the play leading to the goal, when Maloney reacted screaming: “SCORE.” Then Maloney screamed something (inaudible) again.

Rosen: “SCORE, SCORE. YES, YES. And the Rangers win it in overtime and lead the series three games to none.”

Listening on the radio, we knew exactly what happened — the Rangers scored the winner. After the hysteria subsided, Maloney explained how the goal, which was scored from a strange angle, made it into the net.

At one point in his spiel, Kay suggested: “Someone at MSG has to sit him [Maloney] down and go ‘no, no,’ you can’t do that. That’s not good radio. Nobody in the car had any idea what happened there.”

“Nobody in the car had any idea” of what happened on many of his Yankee colleague John Sterling’s radio calls. Kay rarely had anything to say about that. But we digress.

On this occasion with Maloney, Kay got carried away. By suggesting that MSG management should call a 67-year-old former Rangers captain on the carpet for the crime of screaming “SCORE,” a nano-second before Rosen did, Kay is asking MSG Network to treat a grown man, who has been a big part of MSG’s Rangers’ coverage, like a child.

And that is known as going too far.

AROUND THE DIAL

Knicks MSG radio analyst Monica McNutt took the long regular season ride as well as the playoff run. Her absence from Game No. 5 (she was replaced by Wally Szczerbiak) of Pacers-Knicks in the Garden was strange. Turns out McNutt was moonlighting Tuesday night for ESPN working “WNBA Countdown.” … So, it only too 23 years for the Giants to agree to do HBO’s “Hard Knocks.”  HBO/NFL Films came up with a new “offseason edition” to make that happen. … It’s hard keeping track of Stephen A. Smith’s various feuds. It’s gotten to the point where it’s not who he is feuding with but who has yet to make it on his Enemies List.

* * *

DUDE OF THE WEEK: PAUL SKENES

For giving back. The Pirates rookie pitcher will donate $100 for every strikeout he produces this season to veterans and first responders. Skenes hopes to raise $100,000 by the end of the season. “Having veterans in my own family, and having spent two years at the Air Force Academy, my mission is to now support these heroes and their families,” Skenes said.

DWEEB OF THE WEEK: SEAN MARKS

Another NBA draft lottery and another top three pick hand-delivered by the Nets GM to a giddy opposing team. Marks sure does love wheeling and dealing. Unfortunately, he has little to show for it.

DOUBLE TALK

What (NFL broadcasting suit) Mike North said: “That’s an awful lot of primetime games [for the Jets] early in the season but obviously we feel like the Jets kind of owe us one.”

What Mike North meant to say: “We’re not worried about making the same mistake twice. We are the NFL.”

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