ESPN's alternate Monday Night Football production will exist very much as the Brothers Manning Show, as Front Office Sports' Michael McCarthy today reports Peyton and Eli won't have a permanent third person. Those familial ties remain unbroken and largely undefeated with another generation yet to begin his big-time playing career.
Adam Schefter had previously been reported as a candidate to fill those duties.
“The Mannings are the stars of this show. As brothers they have a natural chemistry. It’s hard to just become a part of that family history,” a source [told FOS].
“It’s supposed to be free-wheeling unstructured. It will be like you’re sitting at the bar watching the game with the Mannings.”
McCarthy also correctly points out that the decision to not have a third party will come as a major disappointment for internal candidates at ESPN. It is perhaps not entirely surprising that after landing Peyton, the white whale of sports broadcasting these past several years, they want to feed him the ball and not cut into those reps. This was always to be a showcase for the brothers to have their conversation and the audience to accept on the Mannings' terms. Which is fine, even if it is nowhere as interesting to me personally as the replacement sports media writer.
ESPN has had an incredible year after what felt like a prolonged rebuild of its NFL brand. Securing a far better package, which includes two Super Bowls and will crucially buoy the streaming service, is a massive win. In the aftermath of the news, one wondered how the MegaCast idea used for marquee college football games could be integrated. Part of that calculus was using it as a platform to amplify studio show talent, as well as other high-value personalities who have emerged as key NFL players in Bristol.
Instead this extremely attractive position as the cheddar in a Manning grilled cheese sandwich never materialized. The shiniest object in ESPN's constellation is from outside the channel's universe. And maybe it should be. And this is nothing more than conjecture and projection of how I'd feel if I were in the position of someone who wanted and perhaps thought they'd get this job. Of course, who knows how realistic any of those dreams were with the knowledge Peyton has veto power?
Intentional or otherwise, it's difficult to look at the events surrounding this secondary broadcast and conclude anything other than a network outsourcing part of its fingerprint. Most everyone seems to think this is a surefire home run waiting to happen, and they're probably correct. Both Mannings are quick on their feet and should get acclimated quickly to the challenges of being remote and not having a point guard.
Even if it's a success, though, it's worth considering what type of message it sends to those hoping against hope to ascend to one of the huge jobs with the most indispensable rights-holder.