Peyton Manning opens up as "Peyton's Places" returns for S3
When Peyton Manning retired from the NFL in 2016, many assumed he'd become a broadcaster. Instead, in typical Peyton fashion, he called an audible.
The intrigue: Manning audibled because, like his playing days, he noticed something — a hole in the coverage, a chance to make a big play that could change the game.
- That big play was Omaha Productions, the company he founded that has already created multiple hit shows.
- Has he changed the game? Time will tell. But so far, Manning has paved a unique path, spurning a network broadcast gig to try to build a media empire of his own.
What he's saying: "This is a second chapter for me," Manning told me in a phone call. "I never had a plan for what I wanted to do after I finished playing because I never had time to think about it. I was just thinking about football."
State of play: Omaha produces "Peyton's Places" and the "Manningcast," both of which have been so successful that they've already birthed franchises.
1. Peyton's Places ... What began as a one-off way to honor the NFL's 100th season is now in Season 3, with Episode 1 of Manning's light-hearted show premiering Sunday on ESPN+.
- Omaha has already added "Eli's Places" (Eli Manning on college football), "Vince's Places" (Vince Carter on basketball) and "Abby's Places" (Abby Wambach on soccer), among others.
- "Places" will soon expand beyond sports, too, Manning tells me, with other hosts "who have walked the walk" like Luke Bryan (country music).
2. The "Manningcast" ... Peyton says he and Eli approach their alternate "Monday Night Football" broadcast as if they're "sitting at a bar or on a couch with the guest and viewers."
- And they keep it light: "The 2nd-and-1 running play that nobody really cares about, let's not analyze that," says Manning. "Let's talk to [our guest] instead. I mean, that's how I watch football with friends and family ... just sort of having conversations."
- Omaha has a deal with ESPN to expand the "Manningcast" concept to other sports, and their golf version — featuring Joe Buck and Michael Collins — debuted at this year's PGA Championship.
The big picture: Few people love football more than Peyton. And the beauty of him owning a media company, rather than merely working in media, is the freedom he has to lean all the way into that.
- "Peyton's Places" is a canvas for the irreverent Manning to tell obscure, downright goofy stories about the NFL.
- The "Manningcast" lets him call NFL games, while being fully himself in ways the broadcast booth doesn’t allow.
- Omaha as a whole puts him in an executive role, where he's proven to have media instincts that extend far beyond his on-camera talents.
The last word: "The best thing about Omaha is helping other people tell stories," says Manning. "I'm proud of 'Peyton's Places,' but I'm even prouder of shows like 'Abby's Places' that give other athletes a voice."
Go deeper ... Scoop: How the "Manningcast" landed Obama