Eli Manning's Post-Retirement Life Involves Pancakes and Plenty of Peyton

·5 min read
Photo credit: Disney
Photo credit: Disney

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IF YOU HAD asked Eli Manning his thoughts on his foray into broadcasting one year ago, two years after ending his 16-year NFL career, the two-time Super Bowl MVP's response might have revealed a little uncertainty. Now the QB is rolling into the sophomore season of his ESPN+ show Eli's Places, a college football-focused series produced by his older brother Peyton Manning's Omaha Productions. Now, he's finally settled into being the interviewer, as opposed to the interviewee, and ready to tackle life after retirement on his terms.

"When you're retired, you don't know what you might pursue, whether business or other things, but I love football. And so I've had a chance to be involved but in a different capacity. With Places, it gives me a chance to be more involved in college football and learn and show all these colleges' amazing traditions."

Photo credit: Disney
Photo credit: Disney

Life after retirement has looked like sitting around with his older brother Peyton predicting other teams' plays and interviewing LeBron James about his NFL career that never was while on Manningcast. Last year, Eli joined Peyton to kickstart Manningcast, an all-new type of sports commentary show with the two Manning brothers commentating on live NFL games. At any moment on the show, the brothers could be talking about everything from Peyton's head being too big for a helmet to Tom Brady ripping his pants on the golf course. All jokes aside, Eli appreciates his show keeping him connected to the game he loves and teaching him football facts playing in the NFL never did.


In this week's episode, Manning spoke with Hall of Fame lineman Orlando Pace and learned how Pace forever changed the culture of football. When you watch football game and see an offensive lineman knock a defensive linemen on their back, you're watching what players call a "pancake block." The phrase isn't new to a veteran gunslinger like Eli, whose body was undoubtedly saved by a few pancakes. But, he didn't know Pace's alma mater Ohio State University coined the term as a stat to give Heisman voters an understanding of Pace's dominance. You never stop learning on the job, even in retirement.

"I didn't know he was the inventor of the pancake block. You hear about it from the offensive line saying, 'I got a pancake on this,'" Manning said. "But I didn't know that it came from Orlando. He had 80 of them in a season!"


Learning about football as Eli does is one of the central draws of Eli's Places. Did you know the spin move that helped All-Pro defensive end Dwight Freeny have a Super Bowl-winning career came from basketball? Maybe not, but neither did Eli until a game of H.O.R.S.E. on this week's episode.

Also, if you make sure to tune into other Eli's Places episodes, you'll notice a few more familiar football faces like his brother who joined Eli on a trip to Notre Dame for an episode later this season. Between their Manningcast appearances, their recent NFL commercial, and now a joint Eli's Places episode, you'd think the brothers are inseparable. That couldn't be further from the truth. While ESPN+ subscribers are getting another fun show from the Manning family production machine, Eli and Peyton are getting something more meaningful. "It's kept us close; we're getting to see each other a little bit more than we had been during our careers. I live in New Jersey, he lives in Denver. It's not like we're just next door and can pop in on each other a whole lot."


Eli's Places has already changed at least one life, Penn State Nittany Lions walk-on Barney Amor. Recently, Manning gifted the sixth year senior punter with a full scholarship to the young man's unbridled jubilance. That may have never happened if Manning was in town filming an episode of Eli's Places that'll be released later this month. Manning has seen walk-ons like All-Pro defensive end J.J. Watt go on to have Hall of Fame-level careers. He knows walk-ons aren't promised to have their hard work rewarded with playing time, and how special a gift like his can be in a young player's career. "To get to be there, do that story, and tell a kid, 'Hey, you've done everything, and now you'll be on scholarship' is a big deal."

Thanks to the initial success of Manningcast and the expansion of the Places series, ESPN signed the Manning brothers and Omaha Productions through the 2024 NFL season. Even considering Manning’s solid first year in television it’s safe to say he’s just scratching the surface of post-career success. Above all, he’s having fun and doing what he loves in his retirement—which is watching football and staying close with his brother.

"When you're retired, you’re thinking you might pursue other things or get into other businesses. But, what I know is football and what I love is football; it’s been around my entire life. So, I think it's the same sport, but I'm doing it in a different capacity."


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