In this age of working from home, and the push-and-pull with companies around the nation at the moment about whether to return to the office or not, we can all find inspiration in Peyton and Eli Manning saying they want to analyze Monday Night Football but they don’t see why they should have to leave the house to do it. That’s an argument a lot of us are making across various industries.
The Manningcast certainly has found a fanbase, and though it can get a little goofy at times (which I suppose is the point), what people really seem to respond to is that both of the brothers are just describing what they see. No filter really, just reacting to whatever’s on the screen. It’s not couched in catchphrases, or the need to be overly jargon-filled, and as far as I can tell neither one of them needs to hold a football to boost their credibility somehow (every time I see a football analyst holding a football while on TV I’m reminded of the scene in Die Hard With A Vengeance where Jeremy Irons makes fun of the CIA agent chewing on his glasses to appear smarter. It’s the same thing).
In-game analysis has gotten better, slowly, over the years, as more and more color commentators aren’t just trying to be the second coming of John Madden (who rarely was actually any good when he wasn’t belching into the mic). Sunday I was treated to Greg Olsen, who, while clearly still a bit nervous and occasionally stumbling over his words, was more than happy to be heavily critical of whatever performance art representation of the bubonic plague that Bears coach Matt Nagy was putting forth. I feel like I hear that more and more, but hardly enough. Then again, I suppose all of it is still miles ahead of the Sunday Night Baseball broadcast on ESPN, which is basically a watered down version of The View now.
The thing going for the Mannings is they don’t have to give a fuck. Both have instant cred, and both aren’t really too far into the weeds anymore. Meanwhile, every broadcast team we hear on Sundays and Mondays must always reference the meetings they had with both coaches and quarterbacks and whoever else the previous night.
This is usually treated as such a privilege by the broadcasters, and maybe there was a time when it was. Now, all I feel like I hear about these meetings is a coach gushing about some backup linebacker or how the quarterback had a great week of practice and “really is understanding the offense” as he misses yet another five-yard out by three yards. Football coaches are so protective and so convinced that they’re hiding government secrets that I doubt these meetings really provide much more than the mealy-mouthed press conferences do. Sometimes we get nuggets like Nick Foles telling Brian Griese that the Bears couldn’t block anything he was being told to run, but that caused such an uproar we never really got anything like it again.
Secondly, because broadcast teams always circle back to teams as the season goes along, you can’t help but wonder if they’re cautious about going in too hard on anyone in Week 3 for fear of their reception when they come back to town in Week 11. Which is understandable, but is also the job.
The Mannings don’t care. They’re not coming back to town. They’re not even leaving the house. They can say whatever and not have to worry about how that will diminish their coverage down the road, nor about losing their esteem within the league. If they even care about that, which they don’t have to.
Considering how much video even the average punter has access to now, and how we can read quotes from any presser from any coach or QB from those who follow the team every day, maybe game coverage would be boosted by analysts being free from having to prioritize these meetings. Just tell us what we’re seeing and why, which is always more than fair. If coaches and players can’t deal with that, that’s on them.