Reflecting NFL’s big changes last week involving the return of Tom Brady & the change of broadcast teams over at FOX & ESPN/ABC

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By Ryan Shah, 4th Down Report

For 41 days, the NFL thought it was safe. People were trying to accept the fact that Tom Brady was retired, trying to live with the fact that they wouldn’t see Brady dominate on their screens next season.

Saints, Falcons, and Panthers fans rejoiced and retained hope for the next season. But at the end of those 41 days, Tom opened up Twitter and let us all know that he’d be back. “I’ve realized my place is still on the field” he said, “I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa.” The news spurred many different reactions from fans and players. Unsurprised, relieved, amused.

The only player not on the Bucs that was happy Tom Brady unretired was Jalen Ramsey. He tweeted, “THANK YOU! Throw that last touchdown on somebody else” of course referring to the NFC divisional round in which Tom Brady launched his “final” touchdown to Mike Evans late in the game, with Ramsey in coverage.

This past offseason has been crazy in terms of quarterbacks moving to new places. So many teams are QB needy, and the Bucs were one of them. With Tom Brady returning to the Bucs, that leaves one less hole to fill, making free agency a little less hectic. Because Tom Brady is back, many Bucs players have shown interest in returning to the team. Even Gronk, who was also expected to retire, is now expected to come back for another season to join Brady. The league was shaken up when Brady retired, and shaken once more when he returned.

Was Brady just playing around when he retired, knowing he’d be back? Or did he really spend time with his family for 40 days and say, forget this, I’m going back to doing what I love? Maybe he’ll let us be privy to that information when he retires for real. COVID has had a larger impact on the finances of the league than many people think. Because stadiums were closed, ticket and concession sales were nearly 0. The NFL revenue was low because of this, meaning the salary cap was also low. With ever-increasing contracts, teams were drowning with no financial breathing room. The league became desperate for new revenue streams to save the league.

One way to get revenue was through new TV deals. Broadcasting NFL games on new networks allows for the league to get paid more, by a greater number of networks. Amazon was a great example of this. Thursday night football is soon to be exclusively on Amazon Prime, something that Amazon is paying the NFL 1 billion dollars a year to do.

One huge thing that happened was Troy Aikman leaving FOX for ESPN. Aikman, who is especially well known in recent years for always being on Fox on Sundays, is leaving to join Peyton and Eli at ESPN. Joe Buck, his long time partner, soon followed him to ESPN. Other well known FOX TV personality Erin Andrews got emotional talking about the two leaving, saying “they became [her] family”. Many people are waiting to hear who the next big broadcasters for FOX will be. Kevin Burkhardt seems to be one of the favorites for the new job. Others want to see Gus Johnson and Aquib Talib take over as the main guys for FOX. Many candidates, but large shoes to fill.

The NFL has also made deals with ABC again. ABC has been added back into the Super Bowl rotation, as they’ll air the 2027 and 2031 Super Bowls. They will also air one Monday Night Football game as a part of a Monday night doubleheader next year. In 2023, that number is set to rise from 1 to 3. The NFL seems to be slowly working ABC back into the mix as an experiment of sorts, seeing how viewership will change with ABC.

Will ABC eventually become as big to the NFL as FOX is? Will Erin Andrews leave FOX to join Aikman and Buck at ESPN? Will Tom Brady still be playing football at the age of 100? Only time will tell.

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