Pundit Tree: Let the Eli Manning TV Rumors Begin and ESPN's Reboots


Eli Manning has lost his starting job. He's saying all the right things. He'll do all the right things to shepherd Daniel Jones along. The New York media, though notoriously vicious, is always primed for a sappy farewell tour. They are not unlike Band of Horses, at every occasion, ready for a funeral. They'll either dance on your grave or push each other out of the way to deliver a stirring eulogy.

With Manning it's the latter and for good reason. There are players who got every inch out of their God-given talent to maximize their success. Then there are those who grasped greatness at exactly the right moment. Two improbable plays in two different Super Bowls, combined with a whole lot of luck, changed Eli's fate, the way he was covered in real-time, and how history will look back on his place in the game.

It's wild that the two Manning brothers won the same number of Super Bowls. Eli was rightly considered a reasonable facsimile of Peyton. One wonders now if that shadow game will continue in the twilight of the New York Giants quarterback's career and into the second act.

The pursuit of getting Peyton into a broadcast booth took on a Moby Dick-like quality, though the voyage always seemed doomed from the start. ESPN scored a major victory in getting him into a vehicle with Peyton's Places that allows him to show some of his winning, Brad Paisley-approved personality. But what will the book be on Eli?

Perhaps no other person in human history would be as perfectly suited to drink bear and wear khaki shorts at an Ole Miss tailgate while leaning into peak Dad Bod and getting away from the game. Yet Eli is somehow both predictable and surprising.

Against long odds, he was better than his brother and, really, most hosts when he graced Saturday Night Live. The modus operandi for signal-callers has been not to ride off into the sunset, but into a broadcasting gig.

I'm not saying Eli is interested because, honestly, who knows? What I am saying is that the Manning name is attractive in many forms and, if nothing else, we can expect to hear rumors and whispers about such a possibility for awhile.

Nothing Matters

Before the smoke and most of the grandstanding had cleared from Corey Lewandowski's Capitol Hill appearance, Hell World expert Luke O'Neil imagined a reality where Donald Trump's former campaign manager and CNN contributor would be booked on television to talk about why he thinks it's okay to lie to the media.

A few hours later, there Lewandowski was, participating in an off-the-rails interview with Alisyn Camerota of New Day. This truly is Hell World.

The cravenness is obvious. Jeff Zucker will not be remembered fondly for turning his network into glorified kayfabe journalism and elevating the make-believe goodness of airing both sides over making sure the public is properly informed.

Just think of the willful indifference required towards the client to force-feed them an admitted and proud liar. Whatever CNN thinks it's doing in inviting spin doctors to the table, they are accomplishing the opposite in a stunning own-goal.

My two cents on the whole phenomenon is cynical, but rings as reasonable. With Fox News and MSNBC capitalizing on rage-watching from their respective fanbases, those in the middle are forced to come up with a new model. Those in charge are smart enough to know that a guest like Lewandowski is going to engender interest -- albeit negative -- and turn things into a bigger television event.

Quite a game.

Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Nostalgia Plus

Chris Berman and Tom Jackson are back and, to steal a line from a different famous Bristol duo, better than ever. NFL Primetime is back and in the deep end of the streaming pool. They are a reason to take the plunge and purchase ESPN+. They are also another reminder that the network's best stuff is in its past.

And that's not a knock. This is the golden age of the reboot. In the past year or so, the bigwigs at the Worldwide Leader have been really smart about going back to successful wells. Keith Olbermann and Dan Patrick had a special reunion. Ed Werder is back. The 6 p.m. SportsCenter is back to its original, Classic Coke formula.

There's more in the archives to explore and I, for one, am very much here for it.

And Finally ...

Scott Van Pelt did a very good thing by making Bad Beats go mainstream. He also opened a trap-door to a reality where websites chasing the craze have bastardized the definition of what constitutes a bad beat. Not putting anyone on blast here, but it's a problem

So an open plea: will some brave soul, a person of authority, put together some hard and fast rules about the requirements? It's needed. Because right now there are blog posts being written about ... stuff that just happens when gambling that's meant to teach people not to gamble.

Thank you in advance.