It’s been a year since the ManningCast first came into our living rooms and changed the way some of us watch Monday Night Football.
So I thought it appropriate to return to the scene of the accident and recount how brothers Peyton and Eli Manning have polished their act and turned a homey and sometimes hokey telecast into a sophisticated national broadcast.
And I can happily report none of that crap has happened.
If you watched the latest edition, during the Dallas Cowboys 23-16 victory over the New York Giants, you understand the Peyton and Eli version of ESPN’s signature football broadcast still includes stupid humor, some dumb conversation, people talking at the same time, realizing it, and then shutting up at the same time to accidentally create awkward silence.
Oh, and there’s a football lesson or 20 in every episode.
In other words, this thing is still great.
Peyton And Eli Manning Are On The Broadcast For 10 Games This Season
Nobody’s gotten to the Mannings. They haven’t been broadcastified by any suits wanting to clean up their cornball humor and brotherly verbal sparring.
I became a ManningCastphile out of necessity. Because while the previous Monday Night Football crew was professional, tried hard, and was comprised of individually interesting folks, they just didn’t do it for me as a team.
And I know Troy Aikman and Joe Buck, the new team, have decades of chemistry to their credit and are at the top of their game. But their game is different than the Peyton and Eli game.
Aikman and Buck broadcast.
Peyton and Eli sit on their couch and welcome me into the family.
Monday night’s broadcast opened with Eli wearing a distinctly terrible GIANTS sweater that got the show rolling right away.
“I don’t know if you can tell who I’m rooting for tonight?” the former Giants Super Bowl winning quarterback quipped.
And after the requisite rip of Peyton we were off and running with some actual football knowledge like the fact the Cowboys love to play a lot of man-to-man defense.
ManningCast Still Offers Analysis
That progressed to Peyton criticizing Dallas backup quarterback Cooper Rush’s fundamentals. Peyton pointed out Rush doesn’t always set his feet before throwing and even when he does he sometimes doesn’t do it correctly.
On a pass Rush overthrew to the flat, Peyton noted Rush let his feet slide as he threw when he wanted Rush’s “left foot pointing right to the target.”
Eli, by contrast, noted that New York quarterback Daniel Jones has helped his team get off to a 2-0 start because he finally isn’t “holding the ball and putting this young offensive line at risk.”
Then the brothers ripped each other about their show preparation, which I’m not sorry to say I enjoy.
“I call these guys and take time,” Peyton informed Eli. “You probably saw [Giants coach Brian] Daboll in the weight room this morning…”
“Well, probably not Daboll.”
ManningCast Keeps It Loose
Another thing I love about these two is that they have very little filter. When they don’t agree with something, you see it in their expressions or body language or they say it outright.
Peyton, for example, demanded the Giants employ double moves on Dallas cornerback Trevon Diggs.
“Let’s go, go deep early,” Peyton said. “Back ’em up. Send a message.”
Both brothers mocked Dallas offensive coordinator Kellen Moore’s curious reaction to CeeDee Lamb dropping a potential touchdown pass.
That inexplicably led to Peyton joking about Eli’s Chad Powers character on the Penn State campus recently.
And Eli, in full self-deprecation, talked about the troubles of his disguise. “You put on a fake big nose over an already big nose, it’s a bad situation,” he said.
Can you imagine Aikman mocking his nose on the air? I can’t.
So chalk one up for the real guys who understand they’ve got a face for radio.
The ManningCast still includes guests. I wish they would limit those to one per half but normally there’s more. On Monday the guests were Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson, former NFL punter Pat McAfee and comedian Tracy Morgan.
“I visited with Brian Daboll,” Johnson announced. “And it wasn’t at lunch and it wasn’t in the weight room but I visited with him and I was impressed. He’s going to turn around this football team.”
That wasn’t the most interesting part of Johnson’s segment. He spent a minute explaining how he wanted to draft Peyton in 1998 but didn’t have the draft resources to trade to the No. 1 overall spot.
And the reason this is interesting is because Dan Marino was the Dolphins quarterback at the time. And Johnson and Marino were often at odds.
Something For Everybody
One of the things I absolutely love about the ManningCast is that some people are terrible during their visit. Sometimes former or current players have been drinking. Sometimes actors don’t know much about football. Sometimes comedians try but fail at being funny.
It’s sometimes a train wreck. And I’m here for it.
Morgan came on the show in the third quarter and talked about how he just bought three Ferraris. He’s driving one, which I think is yellow. But he’s got a gray and maroon Ferrari on order, which I guess is supposed to help me connect with Morgan somehow.
Then Morgan blurted out that he’s Tony Dorsett’s biological son and Herschel Walker’s cousin. At one point Morgan, who said he’s a huge Giants fan, asked Peyton what it was like to play against Lawrence Taylor.
“LT’s rookie year was ’83,” Peyton responded. “I was six.”
Morgan then asked Eli if he ever played with tight end Mark Bavaro.
“That was Phil Simms,” Eli said.
“Did you drive all three of your Ferrari’s to the game?” Peyton asked Morgan.
Yeah,” Morgan said. “I got a police escort to the game.”
I was never a big Tracy Morgan fan and now it’s clear to me why.
But I am a ManningCast guy and have been for a year because the show is aging well. And that means it’s sophomoric, sometimes surprising and starring two superstar former NFL players who relate to people as just regular guys.
Follow on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero