1. The most significant development in sports media over the past month has been the success of Peyton and Eli Manning’s alternative Monday Night Football telecast that airs (some, but not all, weeks) on ESPN2.
The show has enjoyed solid ratings and massive social media praise in large part because it’s not like anything we’ve seen before on sports television. And one way the show has broken from convention is that it doesn’t have a host.
Only two people—Kyle Brandt and Mina Kimes—auditioned for that host role. Brandt appeared on this week’s SI Media Podcast and shared inside details of the process he went through and why he actually pushed the production to go without a host.
“We did a straight-up audition. Myself with Peyton and Eli. We did a game from last year. When it ended, one of the executives who was running the thing called me right afterward and they said to me, ‘What do you think?’ I said, ‘The hype is real. They don’t need a host. They don’t need a third person. I think you should just do it with the two of them.’
Typically, you’d go the other way and say, ‘Well, I think I found my spots and I made some jokes and I was able to put them in a good position.’ I didn’t. I couldn’t B.S. it. We did 30 minutes, but about minute five I was like, 'Oh my God, Peyton is amazing.’
We’ve watched Peyton our whole [lives]. We know what his deal is and how funny he is and how smart he is and the football acumen. I never saw him like this.
Back then, even before he was on TV, he was still in prove-it mode. It was the first time he ever got up and tried this thing in some sort of form.
He was just like, fastball, fastball, fastball, toss to Eli, Eli interesting comment funny joke, back to Peyton, fastball, fastball.
Every single thing that he said was insightful about football, interesting, original, funny. It was all the things game broadcast crews get accused of not being anymore and so it ended. I got a thrill out of it and I’ll tell my great grandkids that I did it some day, but emphatically afterward, I was saying, I’m not part of this. No one is part of this. It is Peyton Manning and Eli Manning and that is it. And sure enough they agreed with me.”
Brandt added that despite the success of Peyton and Eli’s alternate telecast, it might be best that he didn’t end up hosting the show.
“Yeah, of course, I would’ve liked to be part of that thing,” Brandt said on the SI Media Podcast. “It’s the biggest thing in sports media right now. However, my wife and I were talking about this when we were watching it, just so amused and everything. She’s like, ‘I think this is for the best. Imagine if they had thrust you in there. You might have ended up a dart board; people might have been like, 'Why is that guy there? Don’t ever talk. Why is he talking?’ I don’t need to pose questions to Peyton. They do that themselves. I think it could’ve gone really badly, so blessing in disguise.”
Other topics discussed during the podcast include Nate Burleson's leaving Good Morning Football, how Kyle and Peter Schrager write and put together their famous "Wall Streeters" segment, athletes joining sports media, why he thinks Good Will Hunting doesn't hold up, this year's Super Bowl halftime show and much more.
In addition to the conversation with Brandt, we also have the weekly Traina Thoughts segment with Sal Licata from WFAN and SNY, where we went in depth on The Many Saints of Newark.
You can also watch the SI Media Podcast on YouTube.
2. One of the best sports photos of 2021 was snapped during last night's Rams-Seahawks game when two Seattle offensive linemen tried to block Aaron Donald.
3. Randy Arozarena's steal of home last night sent a couple of play-by-play guys into a frenzy and rightfully so.
Here was Brian Andersen's call on TBS.
Here was Dan Shulman's call on ESPN Radio.
4. Jeff Van Gundy never holds back during a broadcast, and last night was no exemption when he went all in on players saying they had to "do research" when it comes to making a decision about taking the vaccine.
5. Packers coach Matt LaFleur has a special request for his players this week.
6. Sure, A-Rod is terrible in the booth, but this was good.
7. RANDOM VIDEO OF THE DAY: Matt Damon turns 51 years old today. On this week's SI Media Podcast with Kyle Brandt, we got into a discussion about Good Will Hunting. Kyle doesn't think it holds up. I think it's great. And this scene will always be legendary.
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.