ManningCast ESPN’s ManningCast debuted for the 2023 NFL season on Monday night. Credit: ESPN

The most recent advent into sports television has been the ‘side cast.’ Early in the 2010s, ESPN brought out the Megacast for its college football championship coverage. The coach’s room broadcast, in particular, drew significantly positive reviews from fans. Different perspectives were welcomed, as was a unique way to consume. Naturally, the next point in its evolution saw more tries at it. The most prominent advent since the Megacast has been the Manningcast.

ESPN’s side broadcast of the world-renowned Monday Night Football production features Eli and Peyton Manning. The two brothers may share spots in Canton one day after their legendary pro football careers. But for now, the Mannings convene to provide an alternative for viewers to the esteemed pairing of Joe Buck and former Super Bowl Champion Troy Aikman. They’ll feature guests, and while they shockingly only hosted two, the broadcast went without a hitch.

Peyton started getting on Eli early on. By early on, we literally mean right before kickoff.

Things got particularly hairy very early into the game. Star quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose acquisition this offseason gained unbelievable attention and hype, went down early with an apparent injury. Rodgers injured his ankle while a Bill sacked him to the turf. Manning was honest as the broadcast went on, saying he was only prepared to see Rodgers. He didn’t think he’d see backup quarterback Zach Wilson, but then again, who can say they did?

The thing about live television is ou never know what’s going to happen. So Peyton and Eli, like millions of viewers at home, reacted just like the rest of the world when they saw Rodgers go on the cart. Peyton was left in complete disbelief.

The Mannings later welcomed multi-time Grand Slam tennis champion John McEnroe to the broadcast. McEnroe, a lifelong Jet fan, spoke about the birth of his fandom from the days of Joe Namath. He said he grew up idolizing him and thought the Jets would be a dominant franchise, but he’s been a long-suffering fan since Super Bowl III.

McEnroe and Eli talked briefly about Eli’s appearance on his radio show back when he was a rookie. John admitted to being a bit of a ‘fairweather’ New York fan, boasting a Giants fandom as well as his Jets fandom. But McEnroe sported his Jets hat and made sure to note who he was rooting for.

The Mannings then later asked him to predict what would happen in the game as part of the brothers’ new Perfect Prediction game. McEnroe accurately guessed what would happen, as the Bills scored a touchdown on a Josh Allen throw to Stefon Diggs.

Never shy, the Mannings got candid after a terrible throw by Wilson.

Then, later, the Mannings once again got on each other while they profiled Allen.

Late in the show, the Mannings brought Ryan Fitzpatrick on. The former veteran quarterback played for both the Bills and Jets in his playing days, so if anyone would know about the rivalry, it would be him. Fitzpatrick was around for an absolutely spectacular touchdown catch by Jets receiver Garrett Wilson. That touchdown drew an animated response from both Eli and Peyton.

The game went into overtime after Bills kicker Tyler Bass banked the ball in after hitting the left goal post. That drew a hilarious response from Peyton, Fitzpatrick, and Eli in the moment.

Peyton, Eli, and Fitzpatrick celebrate the made field goal that sent the game into OT. Credit: ESPN

Jets rookie Xavier Gipson brought the house down at MetLife Stadium with an absolutely electric punt return TD for the victory. The return left the ManningCast absolutely floored.

All told, the Mannings were sharp, appeared poised, and brought the right notes. Nothing felt different about this broadcast compared to previous years except for the abbreviated guestlist. But, all told, Eli and Peyton are too colorful and too strong on the broadcast for it to really rely on guests. The guests do provide good commentary, but Eli and Peyton are the stars of the show. Watching this ManningCast, you’d know it, and they proved why they have the gigs in the first place.

[Awful Announcing]

About Chris Novak

Chris Novak has been talking and writing about sports ever since he can remember. Previously, Novak wrote for and managed sites in the SB Nation network for nearly a decade from 2013-2022