Something I noted when I wrote five reasons why Aaron Donald could consider retiring while still on top, was that one of the main things pulling star athletes away from sports recently is the fact that the money can actually be better off of the field.
Tony Romo and Pat McAfee are two of the most clear examples of how the most special personalities can turn in much more lucrative careers after football than what they made on the main stage. On Tuesday, it was announced that Tom Brady is set to make $37.5 million per year from Fox Sports as soon as he retires and is ready to start calling games.
Tom Brady has never once been an analyst at any level, yet he is set to become the highest-paid sports broadcaster. pic.twitter.com/lLSvC8gHJv— The Athletic NFL (@TheAthleticNFL) May 10, 2022
That $37.5 million is $7.5 million more per year than Jim Rome (though he is not as prominent on TV as most of these names, Rome is the number one voice in sports radio to this day thanks to being syndicated on over 200 stations) and more than double Romo’s salary at CBS.
Tom Brady’s value to the NFL is unmatched by any other player in league history. With seven Super Bowl championships, Brady is the only player in the NFL who actually draws in thousands of new fans per year just because of his presence. I have a family member who moved to Florida in 2014, but adopted the Bucs as his new team the moment that Brady signed with Tampa Bay. He wasn’t alone. I’ve heard that story countless times.
In 2019, the Bucs valuation was $2.2 billion. That went up to $2.3 billion when Brady signed in 2020. Then $2.9 billion after winning the Super Bowl—a 29% increase in value.
Now assess the value of the Los Angeles Rams and the case for Sean McVay to get a significant pay increase by moving into broadcasting.
The Rams valuation in 2015 was $1.5 billion. When Stan Kroenke officially moved the team back to Southern California in 2016, the number nearly doubled to $2.9 billion. Going into Sean McVay’s first season as a head coach in 2017, that was $3 billion.
But a steady presence in the playoffs and a Super Bowl appearance in 2018 has helped that number steadily grow under McVay’s guidance as the head coach. The Rams were valued at $3.8 billion after reaching the Super Bowl the first time. By the time L.A. was entering the 2021 season, they were worth $4.8 billion.
That’s a 20-percent increase from 2020 to 2021. What will the number be when the next Forbes valuation comes out for 2022? The Rams are currently the fourth-most valuable franchise in the NFL, but there’s a chance that they will skip over the Giants ($4.85) and Patriots ($5) on the next list.
Only the Dallas Cowboys would be worth more, currently valued at $6 billion.
The Buccaneers had the greatest year-over-year change in 2021, followed by the Washington Football Team and then the Rams. McVay’s part in this is only a small fraction of the work, but if Los Angeles had been a Jeff Fisher team for the last five years, what would the result have been?
Not only is McVay an exceptionally accomplished coach with a resume just as suited for Hollywood as is it for the Hall of Fame, he’s also been making the rounds as a media darling too. His comfort with being human on camera, such as in this recent viral clip of his reaction to the Patriots drafting Cole Strange, is one such example of McVay commanding the public’s attention:
Everyone saw Sean McVay’s reaction to the #Patriots selecting Cole Strange in the first round.— Ari Meirov (@MySportsUpdate) May 1, 2022
What people missed is Les Snead talking about what makes Cole Strange great and why they liked him so much. pic.twitter.com/tYLh1BlJro
Not that being a media darling is new to McVay, as his reputation for being able to rattle off certain plays from memory and being the modern John Madden comparison is yet another reason to think that he could be a perfect storm for television. He has already been dipping his toe into the medium, co-hosting the Flying Coach podcast in 2021.
Part-Romo, part-Madden, all he needed was the Super Bowl ring and now he’s got that too.
The question now isn’t so much whether or not Sean McVay will leave football early. The question is: How much money is he leaving on the table with every year that he stays in football and works a much harder job for far less pay?
McVay’s current reported salary is $8.5 million per year and that is already well north of what the vast majority of coaches make these days—or ever. Even if the Rams could offer him a salary of $18 million per season, that might be half of what he could get from a network or even Amazon to become the face and voice of an NFL broadcast for decades to come.
And because he is a coach, not a player, there’s always the chance that McVay could do the Jon Gruden move. Gruden won a Super Bowl, fell out of favor in Tampa, then decided to try the booth. He stayed there for a long time, turned down all the opportunities he didn’t like, then made it back to the Raiders when he felt like it. There’s no reason to think that McVay, 36, wouldn’t be welcomed back to an NFL team at any point that he felt like it, even if it was 20 years down the line.
It was one thing to think that McVay shouldn’t give up the football life and the money that comes with it for a job in TV. Now with Brady’s reported salary before he even retires, it’ll be interesting to see how long he stays committed to the football grind while there is more money on the table to not coach.