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Inside the Decision to Have Peyton and Eli Manning Work Without a Host on ‘Monday Night Football’: TRAINA THOUGHTS

1. It was reported Monday that ESPN’s alternate Monday Night Football telecast featuring Peyton and Eli Manning, which will air on ESPN2 for 10 weeks this season, will not have a host or play-by-play person. The broadcast will just feature the two Mannings with an array of guests.

Sources have told me that just two people auditioned with Peyton and Eli: Good Morning Football’s Kyle Brandt and ESPN’s Mina Kimes.

Both reportedly performed very well, but on Aug. 23, Peyton and Eli called the Jaguars-Saints Monday Night Football game without a host as a test. The brothers apparently knocked it out of the park and convinced ESPN and Peyton’s Omaha Productions that a host wasn’t needed. 

While it would've been great to see Brandt react to an Angry Run in real time, this isn’t totally shocking. The alternate broadcast was always going to be The Peyton Manning Show and a host, no matter who it was and how good they were, could have gotten in the way.

This was covered in depth on last week’s SI Media Podcast with James Andrew Miller:

The ESPN alternate telecast was intriguing even before the decision to go without a host. Now things are even more interesting.

What will happen if the alternate broadcast is a success? Would ESPN ever turn over the main Monday Night Football telecast to Peyton and Eli? Or would ESPN tell Peyton that to get the main Monday Night Football gig, the show would need to add a play-by-play person?

Also, what will constitute “success” here? Ratings will automatically be up for ESPN2, because an NFL game will automatically generate higher ratings than anything else ESPN2 would’ve aired in that time slot, even if it’s an alternate telecast.

The key will be week-to-week growth for the show.

Will fans tune into the Peyton and Eli show after Week 1, when the curiosity factor wears off? Will fans even remember there’s an alternate telecast after the novelty wears off?

You can be sure Twitter will go wild for Peyton and Eli’s broadcast, but Twitter isn’t the real world. Will Offline America be so enamored with the brothers’ presentation of the game that it will tune in to a nontraditional telecast?

Quality won’t seem to be an issue as much as getting people to change their viewing habits. From everything I’ve heard, Peyton has been lights out during practice games/auditions and that he was made for this format.

2. I didn't find it shocking at all that Bill Belichick would cut Cam Newton and go with rookie Mac Jones as a his starting quarterback, but apparently everyone else did. Here are some amusing tweets about the big move Belichick made Tuesday.

3. The college football season kicked off Saturday. That means the return of the single-greatest weekly segment on all of sports television: Scott Van Pelt's Bad Beats. Enjoy.

4. The Blue Jays gave us one of the most visually satisfying plays you'll ever see Monday night.

Speaking of the Blue Jays, we love this home run celebration.

5. Last week, Traina Thoughts told you about the Milk Crate Challenge and that it was so dangerous TikTok was banning the videos. Monday, right before the season kicks off, Steelers wideout JuJu Smith Schuster took the challenge, but no harm was done.

6. The latest episode of the SI Media Podcast features two interviews.

First up is Nate Burleson, who has left the NFL Network's Good Morning Football to cohost CBS This Morning. Burleson discusses what went into his decision to make the career change, why the move wasn't an automatic "yes" and why the job at CBS News appealed to him. The former NFL wide receiver also talks about the reaction to the NFL playoff game he called on Nickelodeon last year, his favorite Good Morning Football memory and the hardest job he's ever had. He also gives us a great Jay-Z impersonation.

Following Burleson, writer, author and reporter James Andrew Miller joins the podcast. Miller shares his insights into ESPN's alternate Monday Night Football telecast with Peyton and Eli Manning, Stephen A. Smith’s reportedly getting Max Kellerman removed from First Take, the Sopranos prequel movie, the upcoming season of Curb Your Enthusiasm and much more.

The podcast wraps up with the weekly “Traina Thoughts” segment. This week, Jimmy and Sal Licata from WFAN and SNY discuss whether you can do a sports debate show with someone you don't like, Hard Knocks, SummerSlam, CM Punk’s return to wrestling and more.

You can listen to the podcast below or download it on Apple, Spotify and Stitcher.

You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.

7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: With August coming to a close, we are getting closer and closer to the October premiere of Curb Your Enthusiasm. So we need some Larry David today.

Be sure to catch up on past editions of Traina Thoughts and check out the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast hosted by Jimmy Traina on AppleSpotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.