One thing Peyton Manning will always have over Tom Brady is that he was significantly better as host of Saturday Night Live. Manning’s 2007 appearance on SNL is right up there with his brother Eli’s 2012 turn as host among the best athlete performances on the show. Peyton’s classic United Way spoof has stood the test of time as the most memorable segment from that show, but he recently explained that he could have turned out differently.
Manning appeared Wednesday at the Colts’ annual kickoff luncheon and explained the backstory behind that sketch, specifically his reluctance to drill kids with footballs.
Those footballs were Nerf footballs, the Nerf cut out, and were light as a feather, and they put in these sound effects where it looks like you’re knocking these kids out. I remember the director said, ‘Peyton, you’re a charitable guy, this a spoof of the United Way, that’s why it’s going to be funny. And it’s only going to work if you’re all in. You got to whack these kids right in the head.’ And I kept saying my mother is going to be so disappointed.
These kids were all child actors, and their parents were out there watching the whole time, and it was all very awkward and uncomfortable. And I finally told the director, ‘I can’t do it, I can’t do it. I’ll go up to the edge, but this feels over the edge. I’m not comfortable.’ And he said no problem, we don’t have to do it, we don’t wanna make you do something out of your comfort zone. And right then, I cannot make this up, one of the parents of the child actors runs out onto the set and tells the director, ‘I want him to hit my kid in the face!’ I said, I will do it. I will knock your kid out.
Some parents will do anything to make their kid famous.