Sports Opinion: Peyton and Eli Manning make Monday's game a blast with alternate simulcast
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I have seen the future of "Monday Night Football," and it is Manning.
If you didn't check your local listings– tuning in to ESPN by rote – then you missed the alternate simulcast on ESPN2, "Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli."
Amazing – especially since the Silver and Black's dramatic 33-27 overtime win didn't require bells and whistles.
The retired quarterbacking legends and princes of the league's royal family weren't exactly on their basement couches, mainlining nachos.
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Mark Vital, the 6-5, 250-pound guard who won an NCAA title at Baylor, will get a look at tight end after not playing football since middle school. “I’ve worked out for a couple of teams and they liked the way I looked," Vital recently told KPLCTV.com. "They said I had great hands and I was fast and big. I can do a lot of things that can help teams. It’s a learning experience because it’s something different.” © Robert Scheer, IndyStar-USA TODAY Sports Baylor guard Mark Vital, right, blocks a shot by Gonzaga's Corey Kispert during the men's 2021 NCAA Tournament championship game April 5 in Indianapolis.
What they were doing was breathing new life into a staid medium.
► Humor? Check – Eli repeatedly giving his older brother the business, even asking if Peyton had sprayed Pam onto his shiny, prominent forehead. Peyton predicted a 6-11 season for the Raiders based purely on their game-opening incompletion. Sarcasm and self-deprecation were on display in roughly equal measure.
► Football vignettes? Yup – Peyton gleefully recounting a story of then-49ers coach Jim Harbaugh asking the wife of Manning confidant (and then-Duke coach) David Cutcliffe to make him a peanut butter and jelly sandwich after Manning worked out for San Francisco during the 2012 offseason as he tried to decide which team to sign with following his departure from the Indianapolis Colts. Both Mannings shared the challenges of playing and succeeding in a new, unfamiliar football facility on a night when the Raiders played their first regular-season game at Allegiant Stadium (aka the "Death Star") in front of Las Vegas fans.
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► X's and O's? Of course – Eli armed with the telestrator and Peyton with a white board as they dove in-depth on certain plays, Peyton even donning a Ravens helmet and Jon Gruden visor as he called out plays and audibles. He even tried to downplay the importance of converting on third down, saying the best teams he played for emphasized success on first and second down so they didn't get boxed in to bad situations on third. Even after nearly four hours of football, Peyton was tracking how often the Raiders' defense had blitzed.
► Celebrity guests? Got that, too – Charles Barkley, Ray Lewis, Travis Kelce and Russell Wilson dropped by to sprinkle in humor and their own football perspectives. Wilson geeked out on inside-baseball stuff and suggested alternate ways the NFL should legislate overtime and ties as the teams battled through a deadlocked fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Barkley talked about how his Week 1 bets had fared.
Ravens QB Lamar Jackson: Two late fumbles that helped Raiders win 'ticked me off'
The Baltimore Ravens looked to be in command for most of their season opener against the Las Vegas Raiders. Two Lamar Jackson fumbles changed that.Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson, the 2019 NFL MVP, had the ball in his hands with a seven-point lead early in the fourth quarter, but his fumble set up a Las Vegas Raiders touchdown that tied the game. It wouldn't be the last time in the night that a giveaway would prove costly.
Was there always even flow? No, but it was opening night. Did a fire alarm go off in Peyton's studio, and did Eli's mic temporarily fail? Yes, though those issues were quickly resolved. If you were worried about injury news, or missed tales from pregame production meetings and constant down-and-distance updates, this probably wasn't the broadcast for you. (Admittedly, I felt guilty for not tuning in for the unsparing and incisive analysis ESPN's Louis Riddick consistently provides from the network's primary "MNF" booth.)
But if you want fresh, funny, educational and unscripted, this is going to be awfully hard to beat after a traditional weekend of football.
I'm not sure I can ever go back to Riddick and Co.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY:
Peyton, Eli Manning Monday Night Football broadcast doubles viewership in Week 2 .
ESPN said Tuesday that the Mannings' broadcast of the Green Bay Packers-Detroit Lions game garnered 1.9 million viewers, up from 800,000 (+132%).ESPN said Tuesday that the Mannings' broadcast of the Green Bay Packers-Detroit Lions game garnered 1.9 million viewers, up from 800,000 (a 132% increase).