Most of the ESPN MegaCasts have been “meh casts” trying to find a compelling alternative broadcast version of a major sporting event covered by the network. The “Manning Cast” of “Monday Night Football” is a television staple every week.
Unfortunately, we can only watch Peyton and Eli Manning watch and react to “MNF” for nine more games this season. As part of their deal, however, we’ll get the many beloved Super Bowl-winning brothers 30 times over the next three seasons. ESPN needs to get to work on an extension to this, stat.
There’s no need to dig for a critical examination of what the Mannings brought to a live NFL game. If you’ve seen everything they’ve done from ESPN commercials to DirecTV musical sketches to Nationwide spots to quiz show production, you should know that they are still a mega-hit because of their intelligence and humor combined. The only thing we weren’t expecting was that the Mannings even exceeded our high expectations when they made their Week 1 debut.
It helped get a crazy overtime game between the Ravens and Raiders in the uproar of Las Vegas to give the Mannings some great extended content. Charles Barkley was a good cameo start to bring in more laughs, but the show then took to the next level when two active superstars – Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson – made appearances. extended.
MORE: Peyton and Eli Manning’s Full Schedule on ESPN MNF in 2021
While we wait for Peyton and Eli to officially form a three-man stand with their brother Cooper to make our dream of “Manning Night Football” come true, we’re going to take this version and continue to love it.
When it was Peyton and Cooper onscreen together in “College Bowl,” Peyton was the man asking the questions directly and Cooper was a comedic relief. The beauty of the Mannings is that they can play either role at any time.
We had their brother jokes about the size of Peyton’s forehead and Eli’s slowness of a runner. You also have the old quarterbacks trying to get into the minds of current quarterbacks Lamar Jackson and Derek Carr and also breaking down all of the key decisions from coaches John Harbaugh and Jon Gruden.
In one of the many fun moments, Peyton even decided to take it a step further by playing the role of Gruden during the telecast to help viewers better understand the offense, in total Gruden ‘MNF’ style.
There was endless fun. Barkley brought his typical Barkley on, as if he had just left the “Inside the NBA” set, showing Kenny Smith’s same chemistry with the Mannings. Kelce gave an important perspective with two other tight ends, Darren Waller and Mark Andrews, in the game. He was a smart A-list player, knowing his Chiefs will face the Ravens in Baltimore next Sunday night.
MORE: Unzip ESPN’s ‘Monday Night Football’ Broadcast Booth
Then he took it to the next level with Wilson right there to break the fourth quarter and overtime. Wilson looked like he had his own future on television with his complementary observations and insight. The Mannings brought out his personality, which is easier said than done. Wilson, who had his own crazy ending in a big Super Bowl as Eli, was in the right place at the right time to react to the Ravens-Raiders’ incredible end as well.
“Did he say game delay?” “
“Didn’t they have a time out? Oh my God.”
“Now they have to return the offense?” “
Just the utter disbelief of Eli, Peyton and Russell.
What an end.pic.twitter.com/hYRYP1MQbn
– Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 14, 2021
Looking at the Mannings and only the Mannings on “Monday Night Football”, there was no idea what was missing on ESPN with the regulars of Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick. The Manning MegaCast had it all and more. It felt like a beta test, with the network creating a companion show that competes with the main one to perhaps see if it can convince the Mannings to do it full-time, still on their terms.
Traditional sports viewing is fine, but it’s 2021 when Nickelodeon makes NFL playoff games. The Manning’s are breaking conventions in their new medium. To reach a casual audience that sticks more to what the Mannings say than who plays on MNF, that was perfect. There was some of that raw “YouTok or TikTube” vibe that kids love, but also the polish of the Mannings for the more mature, less cavalier football watchers.
With the Mannings, you get the most complete and modern experience possible. If you didn’t watch them when they were doing MNF, you would be much less entertained and informed.
At the end of an incredible Manning night of unscripted football, it was only natural that a fire alarm went off in Eli’s quarters. The Mannings burned it down all night, and they’ll continue to burn harder than the “real” ESPN MNF TV show whenever they get the chance.