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People are flipping out over the latest edition of “ManningCast” on ESPN2.
Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James headlined an all-star cast that included Alabama coach Nick Saban with brothers Peyton and Eli Manning commentating on the Dallas-Philadelphia Monday Night Football game.
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford and former Eagles and St. Louis defensive end Chris Long also dropped in, but Eli drew the most attention when he doubly flipped off Eagles fans. Apparently, they weren’t very gracious to him when he was the quarterback for the New York Giants.
Manning later apologized while his older brother laughed it off.
Peyton also laughed out loud when the broadcast featured a video, taken one summer, of Eli flipping awkwardly into a lake while trying to stay afloat on an inner tube attached to a boat driven by Saban.
“Well, that was a payback for that game,” Saban said of his LSU team’s 35-24 loss to Ole Miss in 2001 when Eli completed 28 of 44 passes for 249 yards. “Eli threw three touchdowns. I never forget that.”
Peyton asked Saban to “tell me what you think of Eli now after you just tossed him and flipped him.”
“I will say that it was very average athletic ability,” Saban said with a laugh. “Very average A.A. to say the least. He didn’t last very long. As soon as we got going, he was done. It was the inflation rule, too, because we put extra air in the tubes, so there would be a little extra bounce in there, just so you know.”
“I did not know that,” Eli said.
The last thing Manning heard before he hit the water was Saban’s laughter.
“I never heard a 60-year-old man giggle so much while driving a boat and just tossing me over and over,” Eli said. “The video guys kept laughing. ‘Oh, we didn’t get that one. You’ve got to do it again.'”
Saban’s LSU team beat Eli and the Rebels 14-13 in 2002 and by 17-14 in 2003 for the SEC West championship. Saban won his first national title with the Tigers later that season. He has since won six more as Alabama’s coach, including last season.
No. 1 Alabama (4-0, 1-0 SEC) plays No. 12 Ole Miss (3-0) in a huge game Saturday in Tuscaloosa at 2:30 p.m. on CBS. And Eli tried to gain some intel for his old team.
“I got one quick question for you, coach,” Eli said as the segment opened with Saban seated in front of his Alabama football office desk. “What would your defensive strategy be for a team that has a quarterback who’s really playing well and they run an up-tempo offense with a lot of RPOs (run-pass options)? How would you try to defend that?”
But Peyton saw where Eli was going as he was describing Ole Miss’ offense behind quarterback Matt Corral.
“Coach, don’t answer that,” Peyton said. “It’s an unprofessional question. You play Ole Miss this week. Eli’s trying to get info to help his alma mater. I’m not going to let you answer that.”
Each Manning got a dig in on Saban, who also has a loss to Peyton. While the Miami Dolphins coach in 2006, Saban lost to Manning and the Indianapolis Colts 27-22 in the regular season finale in Indianapolis on Dec. 31. Miami finished the season 6-10. That was Saban’s last NFL game. He was introduced as Alabama’s new coach four days later after he told reporters he was not going to be the Tide’s coach.
Indianapolis finished 12-4 and went on to win Super Bowl XLI over Chicago with Manning taking MVP.
“I’ve got to tell you, I took great pride in throwing a couple of third-down completions and watching you yell at Kirby Smart on the sideline,” Manning said. “I got to tell you that was a big moment for me.”
Smart, who is now Georgia’s head coach, was an assistant under Saban at LSU and with the Dolphins before joining him at Alabama.
“If we played anything against you two plays in a row, it was like a death sentence,” Saban said with another laugh. “We didn’t have enough coverages to play something different every time. I remember a two-minute drill right before half. We played a crap coverage the first time, got an incompletion. Played it the second time, and you threw a touchdown. Some of those things you never forget.”
“Right sideline,” Manning said.
When former Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts completed a pass for the Eagles, Eli Manning deposited some payback with Saban, perhaps for his previous comments about Manning’s tubing sack.
“Great play by the former Oklahoma quarterback right there – Jalen Hurts,” Manning said with emphasis. Hurts transferred to Oklahoma from Alabama following the 2018 season after losing his starting job to Tua Tagovaiola despite a 26-2 record as a starter.
“Oh, that hurts,” Peyton said, then told Saban, “Hey, please flip him again for that little shot, all right? Jalen Hurts is an Alabama quarterback. Eli, c’mon, give us a break.”
“Well, I tell you, I have to say this about Jalen,” Saban said. “There are not very many guys who ever played college football who went 26-2 as a starter and got replaced. I think it speaks a lot of him that he stayed for another year and really worked on becoming a better passer. Good to see Jalen come back and do well on that drive.”
Dallas beat Philadelphia, 41-21.
As the Mannings said bye to Saban, Peyton said, “OK, good luck. Go watch some film.”