Why is Super Bowl champion Eli Manning a Penn State walk-on?

Eli Manning has some important family histories that took place at the Rose Bowl, but he had never set foot in the historic venue until recently, when he filmed an episode of “Eli’s Places,” centered on the epic national championship showdown between USC and Texas focused.

“It’s different coming from the South and growing up in New Orleans,” Manning said. “The Rose Bowl wasn’t as big or as familiar to me as a kid as it was to a lot of people. The whole story behind it was really interesting.”

The episode, which airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. on ESPN+, follows USC quarterback Matt Leinart and Texas quarterback Vince Young, who struck up a friendship after the 2006 Rose Bowl. Young clinched a 41-38 win on a fourth touchdown run in the closing moments.

It was the last game legendary announcer Keith Jackson ever called, and it took place on the same field Peyton Manning made his college football debut when he fielded as a freshman in Tennessee against UCLA in 1994 . He was pushed into action after the starting quarterback was injured, and Jackson called the game, noting, “Here comes Peyton Manning making his entry for the University of Tennessee. To get used to something.”

Eli was an eighth grader at the time, had his own soccer games on Saturdays and didn’t come with his family. Like his older brother, he became the No. 1 draft pick and a two-time Super Bowl winner.

Omaha Productions — named after Peyton Manning’s famous Audible — has a variety of “Places” shows that aim to tell the inside stories of a particular sport, often in a light-hearted and hilarious way. While “Peyton’s Places” focuses on the NFL, “Eli’s Places” focuses on college football.

Leinart and Young meet Manning at the Rose Bowl and explore the history of the Pasadena tradition in the latest episode. They picnic in midfield, race up and down the sidelines in souped-up chariots — think Ben Hur on a Segway — and dig in on opposite sides of a tug-of-war.

But the “Eli’s Places” episode that’s garnered the most attention of late is set in Penn State, where the 41-year-old New York Giants retiree tries to get into the football team in disguise as a walk-on quarterback .

Footage of Manning as “Chad Powers,” who is part Fabio and part Uncle Rico, with his flowing locks and thin mustache, has garnered more than 10 million YouTube views.

“I didn’t want them to think this was a joke or expecting anything,” he said. “These guys compete against each other and try to earn a place and make an impression. I wanted them to take it seriously, and I took it seriously. I wanted to shoot well and thought, ‘Hey, if I shoot well and these guys open up and make some plays, it might help them to team up as receivers.’ ”

Particularly curious — and suspicious — was offensive analyst Danny O’Brien, who worked with the quarterbacks. Powers referred to him as “Danny Boy” and sounded far more knowledgeable than a typical walk-on. Manning wore a bracelet to remind him of some funny lines, but didn’t look at it. He fueled it.

“He found it odd that a player would call him by his first name and nickname before I’d ever met him,” Manning said. “We’re doing routes against air, and we had a little 15-yard comeback on the right. I say, “Hey, Danny Boy, I’m gonna read this like Seam Sluggo and do three with no problem, pump the slants, look at the seam, pull it out on my comeback.” How do you like that?’ He says, ‘All right, Chad. Let’s go.’ What on earth is going on?’

“Then I started coaching the recipients. I say, “Hey, you have to get 15 meters. Don’t go 13, I’d rather go 17. Don’t be short with me. Let’s get this.’ Much confusion afoot.’ ”

After the tryout, Franklin called him in front of the group, and to laughter and applause, Manning removed his wig and rubber mask.

“I was pretty hot under there,” he said. “I didn’t know it was going to be a full workout. I can throw, I can’t run. I was like when do we get to the throwing part?”

https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2022-09-27/eli-manning-two-time-super-bowl-champion-why-walking-on-penn-state Why is Super Bowl champion Eli Manning a Penn State walk-on?

Emma Bowman

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