Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning has spoken to every quarterback before every game he has worked for ESPN, in the first year of the Manningcast on ESPN2. Every quarterback but one.
Peyton explained during the first quarter of last night’s Patriots-Bills game that he did not get access to Patriots rookie quarterback Mac Jones.
As Manning explained it, he had Jones on the phone. But Jones hesitated.
“He was very respectful, he said, ‘Peyton, I want to do it, but can you call our P.R. director Stacey [James], because he kind of has to oversee all things?’ I said, ‘No problem.’ I called Stacey, he was very professional, I said, ‘Stacey, I’m talking to Coach Belichick. Can I talk to Mac Jones?’ I gotta tell you, I appreciate how they’re handling Mac Jones. They are trying to protect him, give him as few off-the-field distractions as possible, let him concentrate on playing football.
So, yes, I did get denied. It was the first quarterback I haven’t talked to. But I appreciate it. [G.M.] Bill Polian, as a rookie with me with the Colts, did the same thing. He didn’t let the marketing department talk to me, the community relations department talk to me. He said, ‘Hey, it’s all football this first season. Don’t bother him.’ And I think the Patriots are taking that same approach with Mac Jones, and it’s paying off. It’s working.”
Eli could have said, “The extra focus sure helped you, Peyt. You only threw 28 interceptions as a rookie.” But he took another approach, asking Peyton about all the commercials he did as a rookie.
Peyton said, “Not true. Not true. Did not do any as a rookie. Now my second year, after throwing 28 interceptions, I felt like, ‘OK, I’ve earned my platform here. Now I can start doing them.’”
Peyton and Eli’s rookie year in broadcasting will resume, by the way, in Week 17, for the final Monday night game of the year, featuring the Browns at the Steelers. Then, they’ll cap things off for the 2021 season with a Manningcast during the Monday night wild-card game on ESPN2.
If the Patriots play in that game, Peyton can asked for Jones again, arguing that after 17 NFL regular-season games he’s no longer a rookie.