Are You Ready For Manning MNF

Manning MNF
Peyton Manning, Russell Wilson and Eli Manning on “Monday Night Football.” (Yahoo Sports via ESPN)

From the time I was young until now, I have always looked forward to Monday nights during football season. Are you ready for some football? Gathering around the TV to watch. Staying up until the game is over, no matter how late it goes or how early I need to be up the next day. Making dinner for a friend for three seasons on Monday nights, because it was the excuse to get him to interact with people after his wife passed away.

However, I never had thought about a different format for watching the game. In fact, the reliable and redundant Monday night classic was comforting, idyllic. I had at one time even dreamed of becoming one of the announcers. But I would never have dreamed that what premiered last night would happen: Manning MNF.

Now, I’ll admit that I may be somewhat biased; I have been a Manning fan for a long time. Peyton acted as his own offensive coordinator; his brilliant mind for football is like a steel trap. Eli beat Tom Brady in the Super Bowl…twice!! Then there were the amazing commercials that the two have done together, including the hilarious and penultimate “Football on Your Phone” video classic.

So, I waited until today to write this. I wanted to see what other people had to say about the show. I found out that I’m not biased, after all

Manning MNF Style

Here’s the concept: Peyton and Eli, each on their own couches in their own houses just sitting down to watch a little Monday Night Football with the rest of us. But these friends we’re kicking it with happen to have four Super Bowl rings between them. One just happened to have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, giving one of the most riveting oracles concerning sports that I’ve ever heard. They happen to have a plethora of football stories to tell. They happen to have a lot of friends and acquaintances, both in and around football. They happen to have access to a current players.

This isn’t your plain old Monday Night Football. It’s not simply a few guys in booths talking about the game. It’s not simply stale, second-hand stories. It’s not simply bizarre statistics in categories that only exist because a computer algorithm was able to generate it.

This is Manning MNF. This is breakdowns of plays by two legendary offensive players. This is being joined on opening night by various guests at different times: Charles Barkley, Travis Kelce, Ray Lewis, Russell Wilson. This is ribbing each other, but in the way only a brother can get away with. In a way that doesn’t get old and isn’t mean-spirited, because it’s the way they’ve interacted with each other their entire lives.

Manning MNF. The new way to actually enjoy football once again. The kick is, you didn’t even know that your old way of watching wasn’t enjoyable until you’ve experienced it this way. That’s how innovative and exciting this is.

Manning MNF Flair

When you sit down to watch the game, how do you do it? I really doubt you sit resolutely on stools, making sure you’re perfectly quiet to hear 100% of the commentary. Your eyes probably aren’t regularly glued to the TV every second. I don’t think you try to find the most absurd stat to haul out so you can regale your friends with an uninteresting fact.

Usually now I watch with just my family around. I curl up in the corner of my sectional sofa, legs tucked under me. Normally I’ll wear an oversized jersey; ironically, it’s a blue #18 Colts jersey. I talk to the TV, yell at it, tell the players what to do, the coaches what plays to call. I do this now as an island, especially after the isolationism of the past 18 months, alone in my awe of the game I adore.

But now…..I have a new reason to look forward to Monday nights. I’m not watching alone anymore. I have old heroes to watch the game with. Friends who will give me insights into the strategic planning behind plays. Brothers who I know will make me laugh and entertain me, and tease each other to no end.

I look forward to inviting these new friends into my home on Monday evenings. Well, nine more Monday nights this season, anyway. Join me with Peyton and Eli, and whoever else they invite over, to watch football in a new way. Let’s have a some fun with this!

It will be fabulous to again have all my rowdy friends here on Monday night, the Manning MNF way!

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