Eli Manning Enjoying Being On TV Even Though it ‘Was Not the Game Plan’ in Retirement

Eli Manning’s job and responsibility for 16 seasons with the New York Giants was to execute a game plan to the best of his ability. The plan, which varied depending on the week’s opponent, was devised to put the quarterback and his teammates in the best position for success.

Since retiring after the 2019 season, the two-time Super Bowl champion’s game plan—and execution—has been a little more fluid.

Manning is the host of Eli’s Places on ESPN+, the co-host of the ManningCast with brother Peyton during Monday Night Football broadcasts on ESPN2, and co-hosts The Eli Manning Show with former teammate Shaun O’Hara on the Giants’ YouTube channel.

“They’re all a lot of fun, and all of them are completely different,” Manning says. “But that was not the game plan to get into the TV world. They all just came up and have been a lot of fun and I’ve learned a lot along the way.”

Not aspiring to jump from the gridiron to the broadcast booth or studio like recently retired quarterbacks Tony Romo (CBS) and Drew Brees (NBC), Manning said he values the flexibility and more relaxed atmosphere of his current broadcast opportunities.

Eli’s Places, which debuted on September 1, explores what makes college football a way of life across the country, serving as a college football-centric expansion of Peyton’s Places. The ManningCast, which premiered September 13, is a complementary broadcast to ESPN’s traditional Monday Night Football broadcast. The Eli Manning Show debuted on September 30 as a fun, lighthearted eight-episode program exploring the connection between the Giants and celebrity fans, influencers and athletes.

“I kind of like having that flexibility and can base it around my schedule,” says Manning, who was inducted into the Giants’ Ring of Honor and had his No. 10 jersey retired on September 26. “In all of them, it’s a little bit more relaxed atmosphere, it’s not a strict, tight schedule or you have to stick to an exact formula for how it has to be done. All of them are a little off the cuff and we’re trying to change things up and do things differently.”

Garnering rave reviews from media members and viewers, the 10-episode ManningCast recently welcomed Marshawn Lynch, Tom Brady, Sue Bird and Drew Brees during the Monday Night Football matchup between the New Orleans Saints and Seattle Seahawks on October 25. 

The broadcast started with Peyton, a University of Tennessee alum, begrudgingly wearing Eli’s Ole Miss jersey after losing a bet, followed by Lynch—who had a “three shot minimum” of Hennessy before joining the conversation—dropping the F-bomb on live TV. The jokes and jabs continued with Brady, Bird and Brees as the Saints eked out a 13-10 win against the Seahawks in the background.

While Manning wouldn’t single out his favorite guest—though he mentioned receiving positive feedback from appearances by Rob Gronkowski, Pat McAfee, Brady and Bird—Manning said he hopes to have long-time friend Larry Fitzgerald join at some point this season.

“It always works better when you bring in guests you have a relationship with and know them off the field so you can bring up some stories you’re not going to feel guilty about or you know you’re not going to insult anybody about things,” he says. “It’s been fun.”

When he isn’t preparing for one of his shows or starring in commercials for Frank’s RedHot or BBQGuys, Manning is doing his best to translate his on-field success as a player to off-field success as a fantasy football manager.

He began playing fantasy football last season after he retired, joining the 40+ million Americans who play. Manning had a tough time facing “Bye-mageddon” in Week 7 with Los Angeles Charges’ trio Justin Herbert, Mike Williams and Keenan Allen and Dallas Cowboys receiver CeeDee Lamb idle on top of Saints receiver Michael Thomas still sidelined after offseason ankle surgery.

Manning, who plays on the ESPN Fantasy Football platform, tried utilizing Trade Assistant with IBM Watson to shore up his lineup, but says “not many people are willing to do any trades” in the league he’s in, so he was forced to take the loss. While he said he’ll continue to rely on the feature’s artificial intelligence to help with prospective trades and setting his lineup, the fantasy football newbie is bullish on how fantasy football can help spread interest and awareness in the NFL overall.

“I’ve actually enjoyed it. It does keep you involved in the game—to know players, to watch all of football and keep up with what’s going on,” Manning says. “It’s interesting and I think it’s great for young kids to play because it gets them to root for not just one team based on where they live, but to watch all of the league and know a ton of different players. You’re not only watching your team, but also the players they play against and see how they do. 

“I think it’s great for football and getting more people to watch it.”

NOTE: First appeared on Forbes SportsMoney


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