The Manning brothers started their Monday Night Football megacast on ESPN2 for the first of ten programs this season on Monday night. Without a traditional host to assist them make their marks and get in and out of commercial breaks, the first half was a bit choppy, with Peyton, Eli, and their guests frequently being cut off by the harsh commercial out, but it also had some wildly amusing moments.
The aim is that as they gain more reps, the program will become a little more polished — the delay of everyone being remote also presented some issues — but part of the show’s attraction is the laid-back, not very professional character of the two brothers watching a game together on the couch (from separate studios). Peyton joyously brought up Eli’s worst game as a pro against Baltimore when Ray Lewis joined them, and in between jokes, a lot of genuinely valuable football knowledge was shared.
There were clearly some scripted elements, but it was at its best when stories were being swapped and the Mannings (and Lewis) were geeking out over coverages and playcalls organically. Things got off the rails a few times, though, with poor Kyle Boller catching strays and, as the first half came to a close, one of the studios had a fire alarm go off, which Peyton naturally blamed on Eli.
They did their hardest to just get through it and get to the half, but it was clear that neither of them knew what to do next. To be fair, I don’t believe the “fire alarm goes off” was something they were prepared for before they entered. Other technological issues arose, such as both of their mics going out at various times, and Eli holding a handheld mic like a standup comedian for much of the second quarter, but it was a nice change of pace with lots of minutiae to iron out.