B/R Interview: Eli Manning Talks Giants, ManningCast, Pepsi Super Bowl Ad & More

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistJanuary 14, 2022

Former New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning smiles as he addresses the crowd during a ceremony to retire his jersey number 10 and honor his tenure with the team during half-time in an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Even two-time Super Bowl champions get Olivia Rodrigo songs stuck in their head. 

Eli Manning has excelled on the field and in broadcasting, but Frito-Lay and PepsiCo gave him the opportunity to try out his singing voice as part of their Road to the Super Bowl ad campaign that will air during the NFL playoffs.

Manning was joined by fellow Super Bowl winners Victor Cruz, Jerome Bettis, Terry Bradshaw and his brother, Peyton, for the spot and said Rodrigo's hit "Good 4 U" was firmly stuck in his head after about 25 takes.

"To be with those guys, obviously with my brother Peyton and Victor Cruz, a teammate, and Jerome Bettis, the Bus driving a bus, was great," he told Bleacher Report while also adding that classic Lays are his go-to snack choice. "We're jamming out to 'Good 4 U' by Olivia Rodrigo, it's too much fun. The preparation for Victor, Jerome and I listening to that song and going over and over and over it and trying to understand what the words are and how quickly we've got to say it and do it together was pretty funny."

He also said the banter with his brother featured in the commercial was largely improvised, which should come as no surprise considering the Manning Cast versions of Monday Night Football featuring Eli and Peyton were such a hit this season.

The alternate broadcasts to ESPN's Monday night coverage became appointment viewing for many football fans as they exchanged brotherly barbs, broke down the game and featured celebrity guests from inside and outside the world of football, including Snoop Dogg, Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers.

"I didn't know how it would play out," Manning said of the first season attempting such broadcasts. "Going into the season we didn't really know what direction it was going to go in the sense of how much football do you want, how much guest talk do you want, how much should be us going at each other. Do we need skits, do we need other things? It was very much, 'Let's just get started and see what works and what doesn't work and what feels natural.'"

Some of the guests even made headlines, such as when Marshawn Lynch swore and Rob Gronkowski said he didn't watch film, but that was just part of what resonated with audiences in the eyes of the New York Giants great.

"I think it resonates because you have brothers who know the game of football with that family going back and forth bit," he said. "We can also dial it back and react to the moments. And then you get the guests who bring in a new element and make it fun. It just fits for the fan who maybe doesn't have their favorite team playing in the game but still wants to watch Monday Night Football even though you don't really care who wins the game. For those who want a different way of watching it, hopefully get a few laughs and maybe learn a new lingo word from the game of football and just enjoy the experience."

Photo Credit: Frito-Lay and PepsiCo Beverages

Manning also revealed that Snoop Dogg was the guest who stood out the most since he brought a combination of football knowledge and entertainment value to the broadcast.

"Snoop was great on the last one, just because he's a diehard Steelers fan," he said. "He was ripping off names from the '70s and '80s, guys he was growing up with, he knew the current players and what was going on and just the dynamic of the team. He also offered me my own Death Row Records gold chain for my birthday, just everything going with it I thought he was a lot of fun."

Omaha Productions @OmahaProd

Nuthin but an 'E' Thang @EliManning | @SnoopDogg https://t.co/Qu6VYXTQMT

Snoop Dogg's Pittsburgh Steelers snuck into the playoffs in Week 18 thanks to a victory over the Baltimore Ravens, the Indianapolis Colts' loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Las Vegas Raiders' win over the Los Angeles Chargers.

While Pittsburgh making a run to the Super Bowl to play in the game where Snoop Dogg will be performing at halftime is a long shot at best, much of the playoffs are wide open.

After all, there were six teams in each conference that won double-digit games, and quarterbacks such as Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes, Aaron Rodgers, Josh Allen, Joe Burrow, Matthew Stafford, Dak Prescott and Kyler Murray are all capable of putting their teams on their back and making championship plays.

Yet Manning is most looking forward to the return of playoff atmospheres after the COVID-19 impacted 2020 postseason.

"Compared to last year, just seeing the fans back in for playoffs," he said. "That was the weird thing last year, seeing the Super Bowl and the NFC Championship Game in Green Bay with no fans. It just didn't seem right. Just the fact that you bring that energy of the playoffs with fans, with the excitement."

He also thinks the top seeds in the NFC and AFC are going to square off with the Lombardi Trophy at stake.

"Green Bay, the fact that they are at home," Manning said. "If someone is going to beat them it's going to be in Green Bay with the cold weather, it's tough to do that. And I feel like the Titans, even though they are the No. 1 seed, nobody is really talking about them. I feel like they can sneak through this. They're just finding ways to win. It's not always close and it's not always pretty, but they find ways to win and there's something to that. It helps them be prepared for whatever might be thrown at them in the playoffs."

Photo Credit: Frito-Lay and PepsiCo Beverages

One team that won't be competing for the Super Bowl is the Giants after they went 4-13 and finished in last place in the NFC East.

It was the fifth straight season New York missed the playoffs, and it responded by firing head coach Joe Judge after just two years at the helm. The move was part of a larger transition period for the franchise since general manager Dave Gettleman announced he is retiring.

The recent efforts have been a far cry from when Manning was under center considering he was a two-time Super Bowl MVP and four-time Pro Bowler who had six playoff appearances and seven seasons with more than 4,000 passing yards.

The New York legend, who was inducted into the Giants' Ring of Honor and had his No. 10 jersey retired in September, discussed what he is looking for in the team's next head coach as it looks to return to a competitive level.

"It starts with the GM and getting that figured out," Manning said. "I think you would want someone with head coaching experience because in New York you're tested by the media and everything that's thrown at you. Just having someone who has been through it before who has been tested in those areas who can handle the heat that is going to come at some point. And getting someone who can change the culture in there right now and get that winning attitude. Get the players to believe in themselves to go out there and find ways to win those close games."

If the Giants can get the coaching hire right, maybe they too can be on the road to the Super Bowl like their former quarterback was in his latest commercial spot.