TV Review – “Peyton’s Places: From Small Towns to Big Cities” on ESPN+

Peyton Manning is one of the greatest and most famous football players of all-time. He has hosted Saturday Night Live, appeared in countless commercials and, oh yeah, won a couple of Super Bowls. Now, he’s hosting his own series on ESPN+.

Peyton’s Places follows the NFL great around the country as he explores the history of the National Football League, one piece at a time. The 17th episode looks into teams moving from the small towns where they got their starts to the big cities we know them from today.

Before I dive into this episode, I have to revisit my old nitpicky complaint about this series. Earlier episodes jumped around a bit too much for me and included segments that didn’t seem to really fit with the overall episode and felt as though they were shoehorned in. That issue is completely gone as the flow of each episode has been greatly improved.

With that being said, this episode focuses in on teams moving from small towns like Akron and Decatur to big cities like Cleveland and Chicago, but it also gives a more broad history on the technological and cultural advances in the NFL.

For the overarching comedy bit of the episode, Peyton takes over an American History class as a substitute teacher and changes the curriculum a bit to talk about NFL history. As usual, Peyton’s corny brand of comedy hits and these sketches are pretty funny.

Peyton starts off with some history on the Chicago Bears, one of the most storied franchises in all sports. The history lesson includes the relocation of the team from Decatur to Chicago and the name change coming from moving into the Wrigley Field, the home of the Chicago Cubs baseball franchise. Where did the name come from? Well, a bear is bigger than a cub.

He then gets into the introduction of the mascot, continuing the evolution of professional football teams. Peyton spends a little time with what he says is his favorite NFL mascot, Thunder, the live horse mascot of the Denver Broncos. This entertaining segment gives us a look at Thunder in action on the field, as well has his pregame routine.

Another interesting fact Peyton touches on in this episode is the introduction of team logos to football helmets. Peyton provides an extra point for your next NFL-themed trivia night by explaining that the Rams were the first team to feature a logo on their helmets.

The episode wraps up with a look at one of the most iconic stadiums in American history: the Astrodome. Peyton is joined by three players from the former Houston Oilers – Dan Pastorini, Mike Renfro and Elvin Bethea – outside the stadium to talk about how it changed the game. The Astrodome became the standard for other stadiums to reach and the modern football stadium wouldn’t be around without it.

Overall, this is another very enjoyable episode of Peyton’s Places. This series continues to be both very entertaining and incredibly informative. Of all the original ESPN+ programming I’ve been watching, Peyton’s Places is definitely among the best.

The first 17 episodes of Peyton’s Places are available now on ESPN+. Fans can subscribe to ESPN+ for just $4.99 a month (or $49.99 per year) and can cancel at any time.

Mike Mack
Mack is the Editorial Director for Marvel and ESPN content and he has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed "nerd."