Every year we identify the extraordinary people who moved us over the past 365 days and will continue to inspire us for the next 365. We celebrate these individuals as our Authentic People of 2021 who demonstrated authenticity, courage, passion, vulnerability, and world-class character.
Back in the 1900s, Monday Night Football was appointment television. It was the only evening football, and the broadcast team was legendary. Over the years, the broadcast has lost some luster, with football added on Sunday night and Thursday night. In 2006, the broadcast shifted from ABC to ESPN.
This year, things changed. ESPN added a megacast to ESPN2 for 10 of the Monday night games anchored by members of the first family of football, Peyton and Eli Manning. And they might just be changing the way we watch the game.
This broadcast is like watching football with your very knowledgeable friends in their respective basements with their very famous friends popping into the Zoom. It is not smooth, it is not rehearsed, and it is fantastic.
A Brotherly Love of the Game
The brothers pick at each other as brothers do. Eli talks about Peyton’s head (it is really big) and the way he eats his halftime snack. Peyton picks at Eli for being a mama’s boy. And they talk about football. This is not the broadcast for you if you want a play-by-play description.
They’ll get busy talking about something and two plays may get run in the meantime. But they are very insightful and bring a player’s perspective to the game.
And then there are the guests. It is a who’s who from sports and entertainment. Active players, legends of the game, broadcasters, basketball players, golfers, rappers. Some of them look like they are joining the broadcast from the witness protection program, but the content is gold.
The GOAT, Tom Brady, stayed up past his bedtime to appear with the brothers. Marshawn Lynch, always an unpredictable free spirit, took shots on the air and said words that you can’t say. (I blame whoever thought it was a good idea to book him for the 1st quarter – he’s late-night entertainment.) Golfer Phil Mickelson took over the broadcast quizzing the brothers about the intricacies of football strategy.
The ratings are good, but not eye-popping; a recent broadcast of Monday Night Football drew 14.97 million viewers and the ManningCast drew 1.63 Million.
The second Manning Megacast more than doubled its initial ratings. It’s not just the broadcast; it’s the buzz. It traditionally trends on Twitter during the broadcast. Video clips dominate the next day’s coverage. It is the proverbial must-see TV for a sports fan.
Why the buzz? It’s real; it’s funny; and it’s a multitasker’s dream. It is what you imagine it would be like to sit with the Hall of Famer Peyton, two-time Super Bowl champion Eli and their friends to talk football.
Remembering John Madden
If not for John Madden, there would be no Manning Megacast. He passed away late last year on December 28, 2021.
John Madden was a great coach; hired by the Raiders at 32 and retiring 10 years later because of the stress of the game.
And because he still loved the game, he became a broadcaster. He was a teacher. My mom says she learned football from John Madden. She watched with my dad, but he didn’t have the patience to explain things to her. John Madden did.
Madden was a fan of the game and its stars, getting as excited as we did. He loved drawing on the screen with the telestrator and it was his idea to add the first down line to broadcasts (if only they had that at the actual stadium). He didn’t fly so he drove from one broadcast to the next in the Madden Bus. John was colorful, he was messy, he was smart and funny.
For the kids, he’s known as the Madden behind the Madden NFL video game, and that’s quite an accomplishment. But I will remember him as the guy who changed sports broadcasting and made it possible for football broadcasters to be the kind of smart, funny people you’d like to have in your actual living room.
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