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Inside 'ManningCast': Peyton and Eli Manning are changing sports TV

The discreet one-story warehouse is just off a busy street south of downtown. Thousands of motorists pass by, but seemingly no one glances at the place. If only they knew what was going on behind those corrugated metal walls.

Not only is the 10,000-square-foot building home to a private collection of 18 lacquered muscle cars, but another No. 18 – legendary quarterback Peyton Manning – sits at the wheel of the ‘Manningcast’ and ‘Monday It’s also where the “Night Football” game changes. Attends weekly gabfests with his younger brother Eli.

This week, the Mannings gave the Los Angeles Times an exclusive look into the inner workings of the ESPN2 show, which attracts nearly 1.5 million viewers per episode.

The brothers are across the country, with Peyton in a warehouse and Eli in ESPN’s studio built in his home in New Jersey. Peyton thought the same thing, but he and his wife Ashley were doing some remodeling and didn’t like the idea of ​​having all that equipment in the house all year round. took a friend on his offer to remodel the garage.

Those with access to the miniature museum call it the Batcave, and Manning inevitably arrives like a stealthy superhero. Instead of parking in a parking lot patrolled by two off-duty SWAT officers , he rolls the SUV onto the ramp and directly into the building.

“He drives right in so no one can see him,” said Garage Director Don Saba. “He’s like a god in this city. The younger generation know him so well, even more so now than John Elway. Peyton is a very nice guy, but people are around him , it will be difficult for him to walk around.

But there is some normality in Manning’s life. He was the offensive coordinator for his son’s sixth grade football team, attended his daughter’s volleyball game at 4 p.m. I put it down and got to a comfy leather recliner in time. kick off.

In a way, the pandemic quarantine spawned the show. Manning said seeing ESPN’s Kirk his Herbstreit working remotely from his home due to the coronavirus changed his view of television work.

“It just hit me,” said Manning. “I was like, ‘Hmm, is that just his COVID deal, or is it something sustainable to some extent?’ So I met [ESPN president] Jimmy Pitaro said the deal with Herbstreet would be interesting. ”

At that point, Manning founded Omaha Productions, looking for new ways to expand beyond “Peyton’s Place,” where he could tell interesting stories about the game and its history with the help of NFL Films. The idea for the Manning cast was born.

Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning discusses his approach to interviewing players on “ManningCast” and how he’s trying to be a resource for NFL quarterbacks.

“I said, ‘Eli and I can watch football together from home,'” he said. “So ESPN said, ‘Let’s do it.'”

The brothers have three guests to bring the show to life. This week, it’s retired coach Jimmie Johnson, punter-turned-sports his host Pat his McAfee, and comedian Tracy Morgan.

“The only downside to Denver is that it’s so far from New York that you don’t see him very often,” Peyton said. I’m calling him at 6 o’clock. He’s eating dinner or getting the kids ready for bed. And when I woke up at 6 a.m., he’d already started his day. , We often talk by voice memo, but it was fun to be together.

“Having a partner look at football the same way and speak the same language has been very helpful.”

Don’t let the casual atmosphere fool you. Mannings doesn’t want that. They take great care in their preparation. Payton and Eli said that in his week before the game he studied the two teams’ films and relied on the other team’s eyes. Former NFL coaches Kevin Gilbride and Adam Gase.

They all send group voice memos about what they notice. On the Saturday before the game, Payton will be on the phone with one team’s coach and quarterback, and Eli will be with the other team.

This week, the brothers are collecting notes on the Rams and San Francisco 49ers playing in Santa Clara on Monday night.

“Saturday at the Monday night game, the hay should be in the barn by then,” Peyton said. On Sunday night, if you have to pack in on the Sunday before Monday night’s game, you might run into problems.

That’s why I loved Saturday. Now I can do things with my family or go to lunch with my high school friends if they are in town. I was taking a nap. I take the best nap ever.

As a player, Manning couldn’t stand tortuous production meetings with broadcasters. He maintained a strict schedule and didn’t like spending too much time meeting with the game-calling crew. So he cares about it now.

“I said [Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator] Kellen Moore was eight minutes, 7½, I timed it.” I said [Cowboys quarterback] Cooper Rush was 10 and I was done in 9 minutes. I’m not going to take their time. I probably asked every 4 questions. ”

Manning spread all sorts of game notebooks around him during the broadcast, out of camera range. and check information.

In front of him are individual monitors displaying the game feed, a SkyCam, and an All-22 showing a wide shot of the field. You can request a telestration replay at any time. To his left is a cinema-size video board with a clicker so he can stand and explain the play. There are his three fixed cameras that film him and a Steadicam his operator that can track him as he stands and moves around.

At halftime, Manning would have a quick dinner, and this evening it’s fast food chicken sandwiches and tater tots. Eat it at the bar. Like he was a player, he’s always on the move.

Naturally, coaches and players tend to feel more comfortable giving the Manning brothers tidbits of information they wouldn’t provide to other outsiders.

“I feel like I got inside information,” Peyton said. I think it’s a little talk between quarterbacks, not , Eli can do the same.

“I’m not trying to promote Camp on this Monday night deal, but you can say, ‘Hey, I met Matthew Stafford when he was at Camp.’ Look, I’m a quarterback defender. I meet the quarterbacks and trade numbers with them. “Hey, if I can help you, let me know.” Even now, doing this on a Monday night, that hasn’t changed.

“I’ve always tried to be a quarterback resource. Dan Marino taught me that early on. He was a resource for me when I got into the NFL. With him. We went to Miami, we worked out, we talked about strategy and stuff like that.”

Payton (left) and Eli Manning don't often see each other in person during the NFL season.

Payton (left) and Eli Manning don’t often see each other in person during the NFL season.

(Jonathan Bachman / National Football League AP Image)

“It goes unpolished. It goes raw. It’s like Peyton and I are watching TV with you in your living room.

— Eli Manning at the “Monday Night Football” show with his brother

The Mannings said they were apprehensive about switching to a traditional station, partly because they were expected to be critical of their former peers.

“I never wanted to be an analyst,” Eli said. “Peyton and I are one and the same. We all like to inspire quarterbacks especially. You never know what to put in, you have to be overanalysed.We’re watching to see if we can find good things about coaches and players that can be positive.We have great relationships with these people. increase.”

Likewise, working on a show that is essentially a three-hour conversation with a brother provides Mannings with something of a safety net.

Vince Young, Matt Reinert and Eli Manning have a picnic on the Rose Bowl field.

From left: Vince Young, Matt Reinert, and Eli Manning reminisce about the 2006 Rose Bowl game in an episode of “Eli’s Places.”


“If I make a mistake, I don’t want the media to blame me,” Eli said. “You better let your big brother talk to you. If you mispronounce someone’s name or say something silly… that’s what we’re used to. You grew up in the locker room and you become sensitive.” You need to be able to accept criticism, but it’s better to be criticized by players and friends than by strangers.

“It goes unpolished. It goes raw. It’s like Peyton and I are watching TV with you in your living room. We’re going to argue, we’re going to talk to each other, we’re going to make fun of each other.

Peyton’s set is spectacular, resembling a well-equipped sports den with hardwood floors, colorful modern art on the walls, a pool table, and a 30-person bar. Look closely and you might catch a glimpse of the automotive relics of a bygone era. A round red crown petrol sign, a glass table based on an actual Jaguar engine, and a yellow Polly petrol pump that lights up like a jukebox.

Peyton Manning sits on his set built inside a vintage car garage in Denver.

Peyton Manning sits on his set built inside a vintage car garage in Denver.

(Sam Farmer/Los Angeles Times)

There is a small production team around the wall with a row of shiny cars behind it. A bright orange Dodge Super Bee, a cherry red Dodge Charger, a black Cadillac Eldorado with a stainless steel top, and a light blue Mercedes once owned by Wayne Newton. .

“Peyton doesn’t want to make a big deal about cars and spaces,” Sabah said. “He’s very humble about it. He doesn’t want people to think these cars are his.”

About a 20-minute drive from the garage, Payton rents office space in Corporate Park. He wanted a place where he could deliver the piles of mail and parcels that were once stored at the Broncos headquarters. At least 50 framed photos of his friends and family hang on the desk and walls of his small office, and he is assisted by his secretary three days a week. He uses the common area for meetings, and has held meetings there every year since his retirement in 2016 with network executives about becoming a broadcaster.

“They would come back every year and say, ‘I’m not wasting your time, but I’m on the base year after year,'” he said. I always envy players who have plans for the next five, ten years, I don’t, I just say, ‘Hey, I’m going to coach youth football this year.’ and Canton. I wanted to do everything I could for that. But I wasn’t wasting their time.

He said he came closest to signing the deal at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Nobody knew what was going on,” he said. “Financial I remember him talking to his advisor and he was like, ‘We’re going to get hit a little bit because of COVID.’ Suddenly he in the network met one and they offered me a job and wrote down the phone number. [raising his eyebrows] “I really don’t want to… but I think we might need to offset it.” But it felt like the wrong reason to say that. ”

He said he often regrets the day after he declines an offer, but that it will soon go away.

“I really like autumn weekends,” he said. “I didn’t have them when I was playing. Weekends with the kids were probably the biggest.”

He also turned to NBC color analyst Chris Collinsworth for advice.

“Chris told me there are three words: STU-DEE-OH,” Manning said. “He used to say, ‘If you want to do it, build a studio.’ But even in a studio… Drew Brees saw it last year. and then flew to New York, and he wasn’t home for the weekend.”

Before each show, the brothers start with a simple reminder. Smile and have fun. They feel more at home than ever before.