‘Manningcast’ features Tracy Morgan, Pat McAfee, Jimmy Johnson

Week 3 of ESPN’s “Monday Night Football” alternative “Manningcast” brought annoying delays and a lot of back-and-forth talk, but there were some gems during a game that wasn’t exactly a score fest. (The Dallas Cowboys beat the New York Giants, 23-16.)

Peyton and Eli Manning warmed up the audience with a Jimmy Johnson conversation, then turned to a discussion of the Miami Dolphins’ “butt punt” and other topics with Pat McAfee before the show closed with Tracy Morgan wondering how it was for Peyton having played against — gulp — Lawrence Taylor. Along the way, Peyton continued to demand that coaches call timeouts (“What do you think your most spoken word is on this broadcast?” Eli wondered to an oblivious Peyton, who will die on the timeout tray), and the younger Manning continued to deliver a malicious jab at Nathaniel Hackett, coach of Peyton’s beloved Denver Broncos, on that very subject.

First up was Johnson, the former Cowboys and Dolphins coach, who talked about two of his regrets: not having the trademark “What about them Cowboys?” and a trade that never materialized.

He said it’s “amazing” how many people come up and ask him to say the phrase to a friend on the phone, adding: “I wish I’d trademarked that thing. I could have made a lot money.”

Reminded by the financially savvy Peyton that he could still charge people who make that request, Johnson jumped in to laugh off a small dig at Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. “Jerry is already—he has the rights to it.”

Johnson was Trader Jimmy during his time with the Cowboys, and he pulled off the legendary 18-player trade of Hershel Walker. Now a Fox NFL analyst, Johnson was asked about the trade that got away — one involving Peyton — with Eli sarcastically wondering if Peyton could have handled his “always calm” coaching style.

“I would have loved to have gotten Peyton, and I thought long and hard about it, but we didn’t have enough ammunition to move up in the draft to get Peyton.” Johnson said of a nugget he uncovered last year. “But hey, it hit me and I tried to do it, but I didn’t have enough drafts.”

Enough about that. What about Sunday’s hottest topic – the arsehole? McAfee, a media personality and former player who was Peyton’s teammate with the Indianapolis Colts, brought vivid clarity to what happened when Dolphins punter Thomas Morstead lined up to punt from his own end zone late in Miami’s win over Buffalo. Morstead took a booming punt straight into the buttocks of his nearest blocker, Trent Sherfield. The ball flew backwards and out of the end zone for a safety.

McAfee called it “a nightmare situation” with the player backed up in “155-degree heat” in South Florida, and blamed Sherfield for not making room for Morstead.

“His a– blocked that point,” McAfee said accurately, if bluntly. “… His cheeks are probably a little bruised.”

Peyton returned to his twisted obsession with timeouts.

It was a little awkward, as Eli and McAfee pointed out, given Peyton’s history with the Broncos and the pressure Hackett was under for his game management. During the Broncos’ 17-16 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the season opener on Monday night, Manning was nervous timeout called last minut. On Monday, he admitted he also thinks it’s a good idea to call a timeout “to use it” because they don’t advance to the second half.

“Hey, hey, did you think Nathaniel Hackett was watching that ‘Monday Night Football with Peyton Manning’ when you basically called 62 timeouts in his town?” McAfee asked. “Have you thought about it?”

However, Eli dropped the mic on the Broncos topic, noting that the Denver offense hasn’t exactly taken off with the arrival of Russell Wilson and his giant contract. “They should have paid that player $235 million instead of Russell.”

Later, Morgan wrapped things up with an appearance from the game in New Jersey. The comedian joked that he got his speed from Tony Dorsett, who he claimed is his “biological father”. The Hall of Fame running back quickly shot down that notion on social media.

Morgan also used the appearance to ask Peyton what it was like going up against perhaps the best defensive player in NFL history, a worthy question except for one small problem.

“Peyton, what was it like playing against Lawrence Taylor?” Morgan asked.

“Uhhh, LT’s rookie year was 1982. I was 6,” Peyton replied.

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