Peyton and Eli Manning brought their A-game on ESPN Monday night, covering everything from LeBron James’ high school football career to Peyton’s sweaty armpits.
Unfortunately, the Eagles didn’t give the Manning brothers much to talk about.
By the time Alabama head coach Nick Saban joined the Manning brothers’ alternate telecast of the Eagles loss to the Cowboys, the game was already well on the way to becoming a blowout, with little reason to discuss the play of his former quarterback, Jalen Hurts. But that didn’t stop Eli from digging Saban for benching Hurts, causing him to eventually transfer schools.
“Great play by the Oklahoma quarterback right there in Jalen Hurts,” Eli said with Saban listening.
“Oh, that hurts,” Peyton followed up.
The Manning brothers spent very little time actually talking about the Eagles and Hurts, outside of criticizing his poor play during the game, something both Manning brothers have largely avoided during their first two games as co-commentators. But Peyton couldn’t hold back after Hurts tossed an interception early in the third quarter that the Cowboys returned for a touchdown.
“Even on a three step drop, you’ve still got to get your eyes out there and see the defender,” Peyton said. “It’s a timing route, but you can’t just throw it blind, right? You’ve got to see if that defender is backing up. Diggs didn’t back up there at all, jumped it for the easy pick-six.”
Thankfully, the broadcast benefited from some interesting guests, including Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matt Stafford and Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James, who talked about his career playing tight end in high school and why he ended up on the basketball court.
“If I would have had a better quarterback in high school, I might have continued to play football,” James said. “But I took way too many hits, and that led me to the basketball court.”
James also revealed that during the NBA’s 2011 lockout, both the Cowboys and the Seattle Seahawks made him serious offers to come play football. He turned both teams down.
“I would have thrown so many touchdowns to LeBron,” Peyton said, “Put him out wide, throw the fade, jump ball ... 75 touchdowns.”
Former Eagles defender Chris Long joined the broadcast in the fourth quarter, drawing out an often-repeated story from Eli about a nine-year-old Eagles fan who once gave him the double bird during a game. Minutes later, Eli was forced to apologize for giving the double bird himself while telling the story.
“Sorry, earlier I gave the double bird. I guess that’s frowned upon, so I apologize if I offended anybody,” Eli said with Long laughing in the background. “That’s what a nine-year old did to me, I thought I could do it back.”
The Manning brothers will call 10 Monday Night Football games this season for ESPN. Peyton announced at the end of the game they are taking the next three weeks off, and will resume their alternate broadcast with Saints-Seahawks in Week 7 on Oct. 25, followed by Giants-Chiefs in Week 8 on Nov. 1.
“I’ll like this break. I’ve been seeing you too much,” Eli said to Peyton. “I need a little break... Overload. I’m getting Peyton overload.”