1. ESPN finally got Peyton Manning on its air calling a Monday Night Football game—and it was a success.
The Worldwide Leader has said all along that Peyton and Eli Manning aren’t calling 10 games on ESPN2 this season as a replacement for the main broadcast, called by Steve Levy, Louis Riddick and Brian Grise, on ESPN. The brothers are there to provide an alternative option and that’s what they did perfectly last night in the Raiders’ 33–27 overtime win over the Ravens.
Aside from the first five minutes of the broadcast, which were pretty cringey, things couldn’t have gone better. The best parts of the show were when Peyton and Eli bagged the schtick, didn’t have any guests and just talked football.
I’m not opposed to fun and nonsense, but that works best in moderation when there’s a game taking place. The game can’t just be in the background.
As the night went along, the brothers became more focused on the game and the show improved tremendously.
They told inside stories, they busted each other’s chops and they gave viewers some outstanding insight on a variety of topics.
For example, Peyton and Eli made it clear there’s no such thing as halftime adjustments; they’re just a myth. Great stuff.
They especially shined in the fourth quarter and overtime when they were joined by Russell Wilson. They dished out strategy while also sounding like regular fans who couldn’t believe all the crazy things that were happening on the field.
There were some oddities along the way. Both guys were openly rooting for both teams, which was amusing yet weird/confusing to hear during a game. The cutaways to commercials were jarring, with both guys getting cut off throughout the night, but that can be fixed.
During the game, I tweeted that the show could use a host/traffic cop. But once the brothers settled in, I wasn’t so sure if they needed one.
The most comfortable and appealing parts of the broadcast were when it was just Peyton and Eli talking about what they were seeing on the screen.
Part of me wonders if I ended up enjoying the alternate feed because I didn’t have a ton of interest in the matchup itself. Would I watch Peyton and Eli for three hours if, for example, the Chiefs were playing the Patriots? Probably not. The nuts and bolts of a game telecast, such as timeouts, penalties, player identification, were not covered or discussed by Peyton and Eli throughout the game and for a big game, I’d want those things.
Would I check in on Peyton and Eli from time to time during a big game? Absolutely.
But that’s the beauty of the Peyton-Eli Show—it’s there to be an alternate experience and it will certainly come in handy when the Monday Night game is boring, which, unfortunately for the Worldwide Leader, is more times than not.
For years, ESPN has wanted and needed better games for Monday Night Football. With the NFL's needing to take care of Sunday night, Thursday night and Sunday’s late window before ESPN, it’s impossible for the network to get an A+ slate of games.
Now, they don’t need them because even with subpar games, people have two new reasons to tune in: Peyton and Eli.
2. This week's SI Media Podcast dropped early this week. A brand-new episode with Jimmy Kimmel, who is an executive producer on ESPN's latest 30 for 30 documentary, "Once Upon a Time in Queens," is now available for your listening pleasure.
Jimmy's Cousin Sal is also a producer on the doc and joins the podcast to discuss the best nostalgic moments from the doc, why they wanted to tell the story of the 1986 New York Mets and which former players stood out for their performances in the show.
Kimmel also talks about his time on Fox's NFL pregame show, how much Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long hated him and almost getting voted off the NFL on Fox. Other topics discussed include why the 1980s were the best decade, what Kimmel's mentality is doing a late-night show during the age of streaming, the one guest he'd like to have on his show, his reaction to going viral and which question he hates being asked.
3. Three key nuggets from this Hollywood Reporter exclusive on Ted Lasso.
- Jason Sudeikis will make $1 million per episode for Season 3 of the Apple TV+ series.
- Season 2 has had six times the viewership as Season 1.
- Warner Brothers, which owns the show, has the linear rights to the series, meaning repeats of Ted Lasso could air on TNT, TBS or even the CW in the future.
4. Here are some notable sports figures who attended last night's Met Gala.
- Russell Westbrook
- Serena Williams
- Steph and Ayesha Curry
- Russell Wilson was there in spirit thanks to his wife, Ciara.
5. Week 2 of the single best segment on all of sports TV: "Bad Beats."
6. The person handling the Giants' Twitter account last night as the team clinched a playoff spot did some very solid work.
7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: I was doing a little research on Monday Night Football last night and totally forgot that this opening to promote ABC's Desperate Housewives, from a game in 2004 caused quite an uproar. I can't imagine what would happen if this aired before an 'MNF' game 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 Apple, Spotify or Stitcher. You can also follow Jimmy on Twitter and Instagram.