Beloved comedian Will Ferrell once gave the perfect cheer on Saturday Night Live as Spartan High School pep rally prince Craig. And on a recent edition of ManningCast, he was back in the world of football, joining Peyton and Eli Manning as a guest on during the Monday night matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the New York Giants on ESPN’s wildly popular ManningCast.
Since its first broadcast on Sept. 13, 2021, Omaha Productions’ ManningCast has featured more than its fair share of high-profile guests. In addition to stars from the sports world like Travis Kelce, LeBron James, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and Deion Sanders, A-list politicians, musicians, and television personalities have checked in, including former President Barack Obama, rapper Snoop Dogg, and Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts.
This time, Ferrell was in the not-very-hot seat. He first appeared on screen alongside the Manning brothers with roughly three minutes and 30 seconds left in the first quarter and stayed until around the nine-minute mark of the second quarter — and the action on the field had to play second fiddle to the Anchorman.
Omaha Productions Versus Talladega Nights
It’s no surprise that the Emmy-winning funnyman brought the belly laughs. Ferrell began by playfully teasing both Mannings about You're Cordially Invited, his upcoming comedy with Reese Witherspoon. “Peyton, I just saw your cameo in our movie with Reese. You are excellent. You did such a good job, and you totally bailed us out because Eli turned us down like five different times, said he was unavailable, and we said, ‘Well, let's try Peyton.’" Ferrell added that Peyton immediately obliged, claiming he was happy to help “because my brother is a pain in the ass.”
At one point during the broadcast, Ferrell put Peyton Manning on the spot by asking him how close he was to joining the Seahawks when he was a free agent before the 2012 season. “I know Pete did the hard sell on you,” Ferrell suggested, referencing Seahawks longtime head coach Pete Carroll.
Rather than brushing the comment aside, Peyton told about the time Carroll flew to Denver to attempt to tempt the free-agent quarterback. As Peyton explained, “[Pete] said, ‘We’re at the airport.’ I'm like, ‘Pete, I didn't tell you to come to Denver.’ He's like, ’No, but we're here. Why don’t you hop on the plane?’” Peyton admitted that if he had gotten on the plane and left for Seattle, he never would have returned.
Ferrell did his best to match the analysis of the Super Bowl-winning duo, and left them in stitches as he ran off his own play call. “East ripe flop. V right all the way outside. Y left fake 396. V hinge Z puck. And make it slippy.” He claimed this play was from the “[football coach] Don Coryell play tree.”
Eli played defense and put the Elf star on the spot, giving him a chance to describe a play in real time. Ferrell donned a headset — only to have the Manning boys jump in and make the call when Ferrell couldn’t see the action on the field.
During one of the highlights of Ferrell’s time on the broadcast, Eli Manning fired a perfect rimshot, echoing one of the comic’s all-time top SNL skits, saying, “Do you know what we need?” while pounding on a cowbell — the way Ferrell did in the beloved Christopher Walken sketch. Ferrell shot back with, “That is the saddest cowbell I've ever heard right there. It's a very sad little cowbell.”
Soon after, Ferrell — whose previous biggest foray into sporting life was playing NASCAR driver Ricky Bobby in the chucklefest Talladega Nights — offered another light-hearted jab toward the star quarterback siblings and their Omaha Productions show. “When I drew up my career playbook of highlights, it was to be on an alternative broadcast on a much less viewed channel than the main channel,” Ferrell quipped.
He was poking fun at the Mannings because he knows the show has become the place for famous football fans. The ManningCast airs on ESPN 2 during Monday Night Football games while the main broadcast — hosted by Joe Buck and Troy Aikman — airs on the main ESPN channel. While the ManningCast averaged 1.6 million viewers during its first two seasons, its the demos that are most impressive – the average viewer of The ManningCast is six years younger than someone who typically watches Monday Night Football.
Omaha Productions Scores
Ferrell’s humorous banter paired perfectly with the Mannings, whose alternate Monday Night Football broadcast has quickly risen in popularity — just like its production company, Omaha Productions. Omaha Productions was founded in 2020 after Williams Morris Endeavor agent Josh Pyatt and sports media executive Jamie Horowitz flew to Denver to pitch Peyton Manning an idea for a new media company. They hoped to explain that they could create a company around his core values – bringing people together.
Manning had retired from professional football after the 2015 season but hadn’t yet settled into a permanent new gig before Jamie Horowitz and Josh Pyatt’s visit. While he certainly could have settled in for a cozy retirement and lived off of his NFL career earnings of nearly $250 million, Manning wasn’t interested in quietly riding off into the sunset. Instead, he bought into Horowitz and Pyatt’s pitch and Omaha Productions was born.
Three years later, Omaha Productions has 40 employees and reportedly averages more than $75 million in annual revenue. In addition to the ManningCast, Omaha Productions is responsible for popular Netflix series such as Quarterback and King of Collectibles: The Goldin Touch . It’s not outside the realm of possibility that Omaha Productions could become a billion-dollar enterprise (it’s currently valued at $400 million), and it seems more likely than not that Manning could make more off his media career than he did as a Hall of Fame NFL quarterback, thanks (in large part) to Jamie Horowitz and Josh Pyatt’s visit to Denver in 'And that’s no joke'.
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