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 21st episode is titled “Are You Ready For Some Football,” and it looks back at how far the television production of NFL games has come over the years.
The episode kicks off with Peyton chatting in front of a green screen with iconic sports commentator Al Michaels. This opening segment typically acts as a tease for the finale of the episode but in this case, it doesn’t take long for Michaels to make his way back into the episode.
Peyton starts us off with a look back at some old NFL broadcasts and if you’ve watched even a fraction of a football game in the past 20 years, you can immediately recognize how different it was. I’ve been saying in all of my reviews of Peyton’s Places how much I enjoy watching the old NFL highlights, but this was by far the coolest segment comprised almost entirely of just old NFL footage.
Peyton catches up with Michaels at Angels Stadium in Anaheim to talk about how the production used to work, as well as the beginnings of Monday Night Football. You don’t necessarily need to be a football fan, but if you’re a fan of sports in general, you are likely familiar with Michaels. With such an instantly recognizable figure walking us through the history of the NFL broadcast, this segment has a lot of credibility. Peyton and Michaels also just have a great, infectious chemistry.
The conversation then shifts to legendary broadcaster Howard Cosell, who called Monday Night Football games. One of the big things Cosell was known for was providing highlights of Sunday’s games during halftime of Monday Night Football. Naturally, that meant Peyton had to put on his best Howard Cosell costume and do his best Howard Cosell impression to do some highlights for us. Luckily, Michaels was still there to coach him up.
After chatting with Michaels, Peton sits down with former Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick, who was the first head coach to allow HBO to film the hit reality series Hard Knocks at his team’s training camp. If you’re not familiar with the show, it’s spectacular. I have a hard time not comparing other sports-based reality series to it because it really is the golden standard in the genre. That makes this segment fascinating to me.
It’s not only a lot of fun to watch the old clips from the first season of Hard Knocks, but also to get Billick’s insight as to what the whole experience was like. Teams today are still hesitant to allow a potential distraction like that into their training camp, so you could imagine what it was like to be the first team to ever do it.
This was another fantastic episode of Peyton’s Places. This series has really hit its stride and is consistently a perfect balance of informative and entertaining. With great guests and wonderful segments each week, I always find myself looking forward to the next episode.
The first 21 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.