When we moved into this neighborhood 29 years ago, somehow I learned that Red Miller lived in our ‘hood, in fact, only a block or so from our new house. For non-Bronco fans, I will explain that Red Miller coached the Broncos from 1977-1980, and took them to Super Bowl XII, which they unfortunately lost to the Dallas Cowboys. He coached such Bronco greats as Lyle Alzado, Randy Gradishar, and Tom Jackson.
He happened to live on a street that I drove nearly every day of the week, usually twice to and from work. I will venture to say that I didn’t pass his house a single time without mentally saying hello to the man. A couple of times, he was out in the front yard mowing or getting his mail. As you can tell from that last sentence, NFL coaches weren’t paid then as they are now. Our neighborhood doesn’t consist of mansions.
What I also remember is that I would often think how much I would love to get to know him personally. It isn’t that I am particularly interested in knowing a local celebrity. I kept thinking how much fun it would be to sit in his living room and watch a Broncos’ game with him explaining what he would do and why they did what they did. I love football, but I know very little about the intricacies of the game.
My professed desire to watch a football game with a football pro will tell you why I love ESPN’s new Monday Night Football program that features Peyton and Eli Manning doing exactly what I wanted Red Miller to do. Help me get into the mind of the players. What is the coach thinking? What play should they call now? Why on earth did they throw the ball instead of run the two yards necessary for the first down?
The person at ESPN who came up with the concept is a genius. I would venture to say that by the end of the season, more people will be watching Peyton and Eli than are watching the actual game.
I really should say PEYTON and Eli, because it is really Peyton’s show. He is a very smart football professional, and his sense of humor adds to the interesting program. I wondered initially if it bothers Eli that he can’t get many words in between Peyton’s observations. Then I realized that, being the youngest of famed Saints QB Archie Manning likely led to a fight to be heard among the Manning men, and he is used to it.
I would love to be a fly on the wall at their family Thanksgiving dinner. I envision a setup much like the Reagan Sunday dinner on Blue Bloods, with Archie sitting at the head of the table and his wife Olivia sitting at the other end. The Dallas Cowboys are playing the Denver Broncos in the first game and the Detroit Lions are playing the New York Giants in the second game. (It’s a long dinner. Olivia asked to have the television turned off for once, and was outvoted. Cooper Manning’s son Arch — the next in line for football greatness — was the tie breaking vote.)
Eli is trying to get in a word edgewise between Peyton and his brother Cooper, but is unsuccessful. Finally, as they eat their pumpkin pie and the Giants are on TV, Eli stands up and hollers, “Shut up and give me a chance to talk.”
That might not be the way it goes down. I will tell you, however, that I am enjoying the heck out of the PEYTON and Eli show on ESPN2. I, of course, am a Peyton fan. I love his self-deprecating humor. My biggest laugh came when former Indianapolis punter Pat McAfee (now a sports analyst) came on to the show. The three were talking about Raiders QB Derek Carr’s frustration that when Carr makes the sign for the crowd to be quiet, they continue to yell. (What can I tell you? Raiders) McAfree said when Peyton was the Colts QB, if he made the sign to be quiet, babies stopped crying.
If you haven’t already, check out this simulcast.