The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT)

Eli tight-lipped as player; that Manning has retired


During his 16-year NFL career with the New York Giants, Eli Manning was always cautious. Reluctant to get into trouble or supply bulletin-board material, he was polite and thoughtful in his comments, with only the facial expression­s that became “Eli Manning face” memes perhaps sometimes betraying him.

Still, you just knew that beneath a facade that rarely rose to being baited by the New York media lurked a smart-aleck baby brother, and that guy has been unleashed on an ESPN show in which he and his brother Peyton supply their running commentary during “Monday Night Football” games. The show is improving every week, and Eli found new footing as the Philadelph­ia Eagles played the Dallas Cowboys, even though he did have to apologize for an unbuttoned bit that became his latest meme-worthy moment.

With former Eagle Chris Long as a guest, Eli lamented the behavior of some Eagles fans as he experience­d it as the Giants’ biggest star. He had told the story before, but never with visuals. “You go to Dallas, you see some people — they might give you a high-five. You go to Philly, you’re getting the double bird right away from a 9-year-old kid.” Egged on by Peyton, he considered: “I would give the bird — I don’t know, can we do that [on TV]? I’m sure you can blur that out, right? A double bird by a 9-year-old and they’re saying things about my mom and Peyton. I can’t tell you what they said about Mom.”

Well, you can do it on cable, but whether you should is another matter and Eli quickly extended unblurred middle digits. Spoiler: They could not blur that out. After a commercial break, he apologized.

“Earlier I did the double bird, and I guess that’s frowned upon so I apologize if I offended anybody. That’s what a 9-year-old did to me, and I thought I could do it back. Chris, I blame you for that.”

Peyton owned up to his role. “It’s my fault, too. I encouraged you to do it.” Long continued to chuckle throughout. We probably know how the now-grown kid reacted.

There was no need to apologize for Eli’s quips about Dak Prescott’s hips. “These hips don’t lie,” he explained as he emulated Prescott’s warmup routine. “I’m like Shakira. The hips don’t lie, Peyt. That’s why I can throw it farther than you. My hips are loose.”

Besides Long, LeBron James and Nick Saban turned up on the program Monday night. James, a tight end in high school, said Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Seattle Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll reached out to him about playing in the NFL during the 2011 lockout of NBA players. “I definitely thought about it,” James said, adding that he has jerseys from the efforts and wanted “to be a red zone specialist” like Rob Gronkowski.

“I would’ve thrown so many touchdowns to LeBron,” Peyton said.

Moments later, James made like Tony Romo and correctly predicted that Prescott would hand off to Ezekiel Elliott for a short touchdown run, giving Eli another opening. “LeBron is much better at predicting plays than Peyton,” he said.

Eli was an equal opportunit­y needler, referring to Eagles quarterbac­k Jalen Hurts as the “Oklahoma quarterbac­k” during the appearance by the Alabama coach. “There’s not very many guys in college football that went 26-2 as a starter and got replaced,” Saban replied, referring to replacing Hurts with Tua Tagovailoa after halftime in Alabama’s 2018 national championsh­ip game against Georgia.

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